Eight Voices

Thousands of people have camped and continue to camp through severe winter conditions, police and military harassment in protest against the Dakota Access Pipeline.  Social media coverage has been saturated with information and disinformation regarding the protest from the beautiful appearance of buffalo, as if in support of the nations camping there, to pictures of Woodstock represented as photographs of the protest.

There is nothing like first hand experience and Film Feast for the Future for the next few days will feature the voices of each of eight people who have taken a stand.  Today is a brief introduction to each of them, and features stunning videography of the protest and the land they wish to protect.  Each video is short, just 5-6 minutes long.   They are powerful representations of the feeling embodied at Standing Rock.

 

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16 thoughts on “Eight Voices

  1. There’s two points of view with this subject.
    The US obviously needs to distribute and transport oil. Before these underground pipelines, both road and rail were used to do so. This method had obvious limitations and was expensive. Furthermore, by using rail for oil, this jammed up transport for the farmer’s grain supply distribution as they were always second on the availability and needless to say imposed further costs as they had to rely heavily on road transport.
    Given the major concerns over many years with the farmer’s plight with this issue – see Farm Aid, for example, by taking the oil off the rails and roads would seem to be the smartest solution. The farmers are now first on the list for rail distribution, enhancing their distribution network whilst reducing their costs, therefore, increasing their badly needed profit margins. Let’s not forget that very many had been running on near to negative equity despite government handouts and it’s a small wonder that there’s any farmers left in business at all.

    However, on the other hand, we have the superstitions of the Indian community to contend with. They are steeped deep in aged-old beliefs that are frankly, completely unfounded. They believe that their nearby burial grounds are being sullied, where in fact the actual pipelines do not actually infringe upon their designated land territories, but are at least one half of one mile away from their borders at all times. But perhaps this is close enough for their comfort.
    What they will be subject to is the building works process, where certain sections of their land will be contaminated albeit on a temporary basis with large machinery and mega bulldozers etc. Of course, all the land surface upheaval is made good again after the works process, but nobody ever makes a point about this.

    If the US can’t move its oil efficiently then it ceases to operate.

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    1. Farming – another very heavily oil dependent industry. I think there is more than just transport issues that makes farming, in the contemporary monocultural form, untenable as a business, but a host of other policies as well. Polycultural practices on the otherhand can often produce incredible yields in a very small space. Also if the emphasis is on local produce and local business rather than global scale wheat production for example, then farming suddenly becomes a more viable business option.
      Having said that, I find it very difficult to engage in arguments that are based on our (the US’s) current economic system. I find it outmoded and past its prime. Where I come from is that I stand for local participatory democracy, local economies of scale, gift and exchange economies, neighbours who talk to each other and ethical living. A delusion? I think not, the one thing I’ve learned from opting out of the system is that I am absolutely not alone. Politically we seem poles apart and will always have to agree to disagree.
      Land surface upheaval would not be made good again by the mechanical machinery that would be used to achieve that goal. The very act of land upheaval upsets the balance of the ecosystem, by breaking up the network of mycelium that creates a communicative balance between the forms of life that occupy soils. That takes years to replenish and heal again. Human efforts are sadly very lacking in understanding when it comes to restoring ecosystems and also very lacking in understanding of the impact soil upheaval has.

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      1. I agree and also disagree.
        Farming is tenable only when transportation systems transport, otherwise it’s most wasteful by producing huge quantities more than needed on a local basis. These farms are huge, as are the yields and at no point are these farms solely producing for only their immediate locality. Secondly, there’s only so many areas suitable for sustainable grain growth, it’s not something that can be cultivated just anywhere.
        These pipeline trenches are only so many feet deep and wide. The damage to any ecology is minimal, if any at all as about 98% of the trench line digs through empty desert that is used by nobody for no purpose. Most of central US is an empty desert. We either feed and heat people or we don’t.
        Given US’s current debt at around $33 Trillion, any non-oil based alternatives on a massive scale are a long way off.

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        1. Non-oil based alternatives are not a long way off, we have affordable technology now to make all countries with the political will not only carbon neutral, but negative. Bhutan being one of the first examples of this. Political will is the barrier. Secondly, industrial scale farming, land grabbing and forced migration of traditional communities, controlling migrant populations of grazing animals are reasons for desertification. It has been shown time and again that regreening desertified areas is possible and in a short space of time by using non-industrial, polycultural methods. All soils can be regenerated, with the exception of salt plains. Industrial grain production isn’t the only way to feed the human population and is definitely not the most efficient nor sustainable (heavily reliant on oil, chemicals and profuse water supplies). There is also the argument that humans aren’t adapted for grain consumption (although I recognise the science is divided on this) – however, I would argue that humans aren’t adapted for MODERN grain consumption due to overnight genetic modifications in the seeds making it more difficult for the digestive system to cope with, hence the rise in dietary sensitivities. Industrial scale farming has also led to the loss of food sovereignty for many communities. Control food production, you control a people. Industrial farming, as I see it, is also outdated and inadequate for future needs. There are other ways to heat and feed people and always has been. Our current methods after all, are less than 150 years old.

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          1. You might have slid slightly off-topic, given that what you’ve stated doesn’t reflect the actual reality of the affairs of today in the US.
            That just is not true at all. Alternative energy sources currently available, in the scale of availability would not make a jot of difference to the scale of current US production methods. For obvious reasons – the scale of the land masses involved.
            Bhutan (?) has a population of less than 800,000. Therefore, it’s basically home to a smallish city in terms of the US. Bhutan is basically a series of villages cut-off from each other due to the terrain and they farm on the basis of support to that immediate population in that vicinity. There’s really no compare and frankly, in this instance ridiculous to suggest these same methods could work for a population of mainly city dwellers numbering some 320 million.
            Bhutan also has no such thing as a water shortage, which would be somewhat problematic for large swathes of US arable land particularly if dependent on a continuous basis where sometimes the yields are very low. Also, it would be fair to say that Rice could not exactly be considered a staple within the US.
            Basically, it’s a pipe dream to even begin to think that US farming could be turned into some kind of Eden Project.

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            1. It’s also a pipe dream to suggest that it can be sustained as a system indefinitely. Your argument seems to be based on responses to what is, rather than what needs to be for the future health of existing eco-systems, dying ones and the communities that are dependent upon them. One being due to the growing water shortages (not to mention ownership of natural water), as you state, and secondly and due to possible water contamination from pipelines such as the DAPL. And I don’t believe for one moment that there is 0% risk from the pipeline.

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              1. Of course I’m only responding to what is – which is the topic.
                I really don’t think your giving nearly enough credibility to the civil engineering capabilities, which is a science to its self and the technical safety standards. This isn’t a bunch of navvies digging a hole.
                US oil reserves are nowhere near depleting and if anything much untapped, as per recent surveys in Texas, where they reckon there’s at least supply for the next 500 years. Plus what they recently found in Brazil and off-shore, hence, US administration’s sudden friendly interest during the tenure of Hillary Clinton whilst Sec of State.
                Which kind of indicates oil isn’t leaving the agenda.

                As for fresh water reserves, there’s a school of thought that reckons this could very well lead to global war.
                (quite why we always think in terms of WW3 to be of European origin is ridiculous)
                However, we saw an indicative good example of the mentality behind this greed and power within Polanski’s 1974 movie ‘Chinatown’.
                Quite obviously US land ownership laws don’t seem to entail any form of social or community welfare concerns and very much “what’s mine – remains mine”. This is a shocking state of affairs.

                That said, there are advances to eco-structure community living and the Twin Oaks Community in Virginia would be a prime example, however, it’s a slow process that takes time and not least money.
                There will certainly be more of them in the future and on the upfront there are far greater opportunities for their development in the US than they could ever have in UK, due to land ownership restraints here.

                It must be said also that there’s definitely an element of “self pity” support manifested both by Indian community leaders and their supporters. They have – and certainly with a lot of help through their own volition – remain outcasts in terms of community integration. They don’t want to integrate and insist on retreating to these dreadful off-limits encampments that are basically a caravan park with a teepee. Alcoholism and hard drug addiction is rife particularly among their men folk and a losing battle for the support authorities. In some Indian communities the average life-span for a male is 45 years, which is rather telling.
                They talk about being “warriors” when in fact their real enemy is the needle and the spoon washed down with their home-made hooch. Their mentality is almost akin to if half of Scotland were to run around as if it were the days of William Wallace. They are stifled by their tribal history with nowhere to go and nothing to strive for.
                Obviously some serious hard work needs doing here as if anything is untenable it is this situation.

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                1. And what are the reasons for these social problems in indigenous communities? I don’t suppose discrimination has anything to do with it?
                  Isn’t it a pity that early settlers didn’t see a need for integration with the existing population?
                  There is a great deal of cross-cultural knowledge that is being lost through western dominance. It’s sad, as I truly believe it’s going to be needed in the future. Have you looked at oil usage figures compared to the costs of continued oil supply? And I don’t just mean economic costs. I feel sorry for Brazil.

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                  1. With the drug issue there’s several angles to it, some of which don’t exactly adhere to US social values or probably more importantly, US laws. Traditionally these indigenous Indians would get smashed out of their heads before battle on a variety of substances to stave off fear, increase bravery and reduce pain – not that far removed from later US military tactics in Korea and Vietnam with LSD. Of course what the US military does doesn’t necessarily reflect in society at large and there’s double-standards at play.
                    This drug thing was also a major part of their social gatherings, too. It’s to be found all over the Americas and in the large part is completely tolerated by the authorities without interference. However, the US as we know doesn’t operate with such tolerance. Compromises have been made – at least on paper, by ‘relocating’ them to these designated areas, which are in the main nowhere near anybody or anything else. It’s grand scale racism and they’re cut off completely. So when anybody turns up at their doorstep, such as this pipeline work, they come out in numbers to demonstrate their situation as it’s really their only opportunity to get any exposure to their plight. Who could blame them, it’s all they’ve got.
                    Of course it’s appalling discrimination, but it’s not wholly one-sided. Many Indians have opted for this ‘choice’, whilst many others have come out from the cold and joined into society at large. It’s not nearly a case of all indigenous Indians being locked up in reservations – as some media outlets would have it.

                    These early settlers followed by the Founding Fathers and their crews of thugs certainly weren’t the most altruistic of fellows. They barged in with a gun in one hand and the Bible in the other. I read that they drove several hundred tribes into complete extinction. Those that survived were those that saw fit to back off, begin to compromise and eventually allowed themselves to become ‘owned’ into slavery. After several centuries of such abject terror this would obviously take its toll psychologically and there’s a belief that if more than 20% of a population die, the psychological damage is insurmountable and takes many generations to repair.
                    Basically, I think what we see today in some of these interviews are the last bastion examples of a few worthies with a glimmer of warrior in themselves, but on the whole have completely given up. They are truly lost souls.
                    There’s definitely no way they’ll ever be allowed to live as proper Indians again with the huge hunting expeditions and living where they so choose. That was all over by about 1870, but it would seem they haven’t got over this.
                    There’s no doubt that 150 years of penance is extremely severe and the drug problems today are a means to obliterate the mental anguish.

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                    1. Strangely, I think that in the main, we’re in agreement. I certainly agree with the double standards of which you speak. I’ve read quite a bit about LSD experiments. Graham Hancock is quite interesting to listen to on this subject. He argues there is a war on consciousness, there are many legal mind altering substances, but those that are legal keep us separated from spirit, they numb rather than awaken consciousness. He proposes that we’re entitled to the right of adult sovereignty over our own consciousness. Personally, I feel that by inhibiting shamanic practice we’re losing knowledge and experience that is vital for our humanity.

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    2. Hello Andrew,

      I was under the impression that farmers needed to drink water to? The EPA has questioned the monitoring abilities and safety of the pipeline. We all know how serious oil spills in water are and the extent of environmental damage, death and illness to people and animals caused by such oil spills – especially if it contaminates drinking water.

      Placing such a pipeline under a river which is the source of drinking water for tens and thousands of people is simply not common sense, as a leakage could contaminate water supplies.

      As for ‘unfounded superstitious beliefs’ – I guess it’s okay then for an oil company to build a pipeline under your local city’s graveyard where citizens go to pay their respects to their grandparents, because to be concerned about enterring the ground where one’s forebears are buried is just really superstitious beliefs.

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      1. Hello Debbie,
        The thing is we have all sorts of pipelines running under our cities already. Are you suggesting that the technical engineering capabilities of installing a pipeline aren’t good enough, safe enough? Given that we can build ships and submarines using pretty much the same sealant methods, it may be safe to say we’ve got it covered. These pipes have seal after seal after seal at the joints.
        Most cities have a major river running through them or very close by – which is why these cities were built there in the first place. I think you really need to do a bit of homework on the inner machinations of how any city is built and planned. Without underground service structures – there’s no city, nothing.
        Unless of course, you’d prefer that we all live in temporary camps or traipsing around with large bottles of water, gas, oil, etc. I think we’ve slightly moved on from this ‘frontier’ mentality, don’t you?
        If we can build underground massive rail systems, see London, Paris, Athens etc., I just think we might be able to lay a pipe.
        Also, you might just find that in all cities the clean water supply pipes run in tandem with the waste pipes. However, we seem to have managed to work this one out quite safely since at least the days of the Roman Empire.

        Yes, undoubtedly such work where surface soil is temporarily disrupted may on occasion cause temporary effect on the water supply. However, it’s only silt and nothing more, and such would be found after a rain storm where one lives in the countryside and finds their water to have a ‘brackish’ content for a few days. In fact many people living in outlying areas would have this ‘brackish’ content in their water at all times. I could drive just 15 miles up country to where I live and find that to be the case any day of the week. So this is really no big deal at all.

        Graveyards. Maybe they’re lucky enough to be granted such long term planning as in a lot of cities these days a municipal grave position has a ‘lifespan’. You might have 50 years, maybe a 100. If you want eternal rest it will cost you dearly and you’d need to go to the private sector. Neither is this a sustainable practice and it’s a really old mentality and such a waste of what is in some cases, prime land reserves.
        I would also hope that none of these graveyards are anywhere near any water supply functions, but we know this is not the case as many are positioned to the side of fresh water nature reserves. Which kind of negates your concerns. Some people may well be drinking decomposing corpse slurry.
        If you can’t see that throwing corpses into a pit and cherishing this pit as some kind of worshiping medium to what are profoundly ‘unfounded superstitious beliefs’, in the year 2017, then I really don’t quite know how to respond without taking such a mentality to pieces.

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  2. Watching this feels so surreal. I think in some ways we are standing on the verge of seeing history repeating itself again. I feel our country has taken so many giant steps backwards. I am reminded of the Sand Creek massacre and pray that there is no violence before this is done. It’s my understanding that many have gone home from the second wave of occupation, having decided to fight this in court. They won’t win, of course. They can’t fight big business. Sigh… I appreciated the upside down American flag. It means the country is in trouble.

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    1. Watching from a distance feels like 1 step forwards, 10 steps back. I suspect it’ll not be that different here when Brexit actually happens and the reality becomes apparent. The way I understand it is that big business is difficult to be fight is due to the status of businesses as persons in law? Am I right about that? If so, I did come across an NGO who are campaigning for constitutional change to stop that. I’ll see if I can remember who they are.

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