In this shocking video from Al Jazeera America, the terrible effects of hydraulic fracking are put on full display as the land of Native American tribes are poisoned by the constant pollution and all the profits funneled to a few wealthy landowners, leaving the bulk of the people worse off than they were before.
“They came in and took advantage of a lot of the people here who had no idea what it was like, what the oil industry was composed of, what would happen to the environment” says Richard Crow’s Heart, an environmental activist who helps fight Big Oil in the Mandan, Hidatsa, and Arikara (MHA) Nation.
When asking the tribe’s environmental agency how many calls they get about an oil spill, Director Edmund Baker replies that “Sometimes, we get three in a day…seven to eight a week, usually.” He has only six field officers to monitor 13,000 oil wells in the tribe’s land, which provide 1/3 of all the oil sold out of North Dakota.
In July 2014, a broken pipe dumped over a million gallons of brine, a salinated water byproduct of fracking, into a local creek, turning the water a garish brown. “It’s the destruction of our environment, destruction to our life, all because of greed, and a dollar bill. And to me, a dollar bill is not worth what I see here” says Crow’s Heart.
The rapid development of the MHA tribes “The boom took off too fast” says the Chairman of the MHA Nation. “The federal government wasn’t prepared, The state wasn’t ready, we weren’t ready, the only people who were ready were the oil companies; they knew exactly what they were gonna do, exactly what they wanted, and how they were going to do it.”
It’s another tragic example of massive corporations taking advantage of the local populace in poor areas with little opportunity, and leaving the land scarred and poisoned for decades.
Opinion columnist and former editor-in-chief of Occupy Democrats. He graduated from Bennington College with a Bachelor's degree in history and political science. He now focuses on advancing the cause of social justice and equality in America.