But let justice roll down like waters,
and righteousness like an ever-flowing stream.
— Amos 5:24
“I pray that the powers-that-be hear our prayers because all this behavior we are exhibiting is a prayer on our part.
“Thank you for listening and enjoy your families, your children, and grandchildren.”
–Dave Archambault, II, Chairman, Standing Rock Sioux Tribe
If you haven’t followed the stand that Native-American tribes have taken against the pipeline–if you don’t understand why the tribes are so upset about it–this quote from a United Methodist News Service article tells you all you need to know (with my italics for emphasis):
The route of the Dakota Access Pipeline originally crossed under the Missouri River near Bismarck. Due to documented concerns over water contamination, the route was moved to cross near the reservation. The pipeline is designed to carry a half-million barrels of oil daily from the Bakken oil fields in northwest North Dakota to Patoka, Illinois.
“They could just have easily put this pipeline under the river at Bismarck. Well, guess what? That’s where the white people live,” [protester] Charles Hunter said.
Get it? The original route was moved so that the issue became a potential Native-American problem.
So the tribes aren’t concerned only about their sacred land being desecrated, but also concerned about the source of all life: clean water.
This brought to my mind the horror story that erupted out of Flint, Mich., in January, when e-mails released by Republican Michigan Gov. Rick Snyder showed his office dismissed or played down legitimate concerns about the poisonous water in Flint for months on end.
You’ll recall that finally, after African-American kids were poisoned by the lead contaminated-water supply, state officials conceded that Flint had a major public health emergency because of poisonous tap water.
That whole, horrifying disaster began because the Scrooge of a Republican leader wanted to cut expense and thus went on the cheap in supplying water, at risk to powerless people. (And to be fair, there turned out to be plenty of political blame to go around, as usual: some Democrats came out of it with rotten eggs on their faces, too.)
This kind of injustice happens every day–and never in the back yard of people who live near high-dollar country clubs or suburban McMansions.
It’s always in the back yards of powerless and poor whites, blacks, Hispanics, and now (as usual) the nation’s original Americans.
“Justice denied anywhere,” King said, “is justice denied everywhere.”
God bless the justice fighters in North Dakota, Flint, and everywhere.
May their tribes increase.