"The losing fight over the Dakota Access oil pipeline has brought into high relief the dire living conditions of the Standing Rock Sioux and other Native Americans."
"CANNON BALL, N.D.—Oil is now in the Dakota Access pipeline under the Missouri River, half a mile north of the Standing Rock Sioux reservation in North Dakota. The pipeline will soon begin operating despite a year of sometimes violent protests by thousands of native and non-native demonstrators, who fear a spill from the pipeline polluting the reservation's water supply. The fight ended abruptly when, as one of his first acts, President Donald Trump reversed an order from his predecessor, Barack Obama, and canceled a new, more thorough environmental study by the Army Corps of Engineers.
Pipeline opponents had high expectations of stopping the pipeline, but they were not surprised by their failure. "Since Columbus 'discovered' America, Native Americans have had to endure the worst of the worst," said Steven Willard, a resident of the Standing Rock reservation living in Fort Yates, downstream from the pipeline. "This is just going to be another object thrown at us that we will have to find a way to endure."
Every day is a test of endurance on the reservation, which encompasses 3,600 square miles of windswept prairie in North and South Dakota. Freezing in winter, baking in summer, the reservation's residents brave the elements in clusters of trailer parks and prefabricated homes. Some 40 percent of its 8,200 people live below the poverty line. Like other Native American communities, Standing Rock suffers from high rates of unemployment, alcoholism and suicide. The health care system is a shambles, and housing is so scarce that multiple families often cram into a single dwelling."