On March 10, 2017, thousands of Indigenous Americans and their allies gathered in Washington, DC, to affirm “the necessity to respect Indigenous Nations and their right to protect their homelands, environment and future generations.” When corporate news media covered the march, they focused narrowly on opposition to the Dakota Access Pipeline. However, Native lands around the country are under threat, including Oak Flat in Arizona and Chaco Canyon in New Mexico. The Utah state legislature is also considering overturning former President Barack Obama’s decision to prevent oil drilling and mining at Bear Ears National Monument. Indigenous protests at these sites have been almost entirely unreported by the establishment press.
The Indigenous Environmental Network maintains an interactive map documenting pipeline accidents from 2000-2015, but the full scale of the damage it documents has gone unreported by the mainstream media.
The exploitation of Native American land is in direct violation of Article 12 of the Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples, as enacted by the United Nations in 2007, although the US notably voted against the declaration. However, Native American tribes are unable to own land because it is held in trust by the US government. Both the Chaco Canyon land and Oak Flat land were sold without the consent of the native groups that had ties to the land. In September 2016, Stephanie Woodard reported that the Bureau for Indian Affairs makes cheap deals with corporations to sell off Native American land.
Although establishment news organizations, such as the Washington Post and the Huffington Post covered the March 10 protest in Washington, DC, this coverage focused narrowly on resistance to the Dakota Access Pipeline. The sale of Native lands received some press on local news stations, including the Fox affiliate in New Mexico and PBS in Arizona.
Source: Stephanie Woodard, “How the U.S. Government Is Helping Corporations Plunder Native Land,” In These Times, September 2016, published online September 6, 2016, http://inthesetimes.com/features/native-land-plunder-bureau-of-indian-affairs.html.
Student Researcher: Ailis Monaghan (University of Vermont)
Faculty Advisor: Rob Williams (University of Vermont)