It has been about a decade since North Dakota was impacted by an oil drilling boom that resulted in thousands of jobs for Americans dealing with high unemployment rates. Dozens of oil wells and drilling projects emerged on the outer edges of tribal reservations; however, the initial growth has slowed down considerably due to restrictions imposed by issues of sovereignty.
Although many Native Americans are firmly opposed to projects such as the Dakota Access Pipeline, which has been given a green light by the Trump administration, some tribes would like to see the oil drilling approval process streamlined in their reservations. According to a news wire report published by Reuters, Native American land covers only two percent of the United States; nonetheless, oil prospectors believe that 20 percent of continental oil reserves are located within these reservations.
A special team working on behalf of the Trump administration is working with tribal leaders to find solutions to the deep bureaucratic process involved with approving drilling projects within Native American reservations. One proposed solution would facilitate the transfer of reservation land to private owners.
Native American organizations interested in protect their culture are firmly opposed to streamlining approvals of drilling projects. Environmental conservation is a prominent aspect of Native American culture; drilling for oil would run counter to some religious beliefs that most tribes hold as being sacred. In the meantime, protesters at Standing Rock are conferring with veterans who supported them in 2016 and preparing for more activism and civil disobedience in 2017.
Categories: Dakota Access Pipeline, Native American, Native American Culture