Thanksgiving is an American holiday that celebrates the coming together of the Native Americans and the Pilgrims. Every fourth Thursday of November, we gather with our friends and family to enjoy each other’s company and to give thanks for what we have. However, after almost four centuries of carrying on this tradition, we often forget the celebration commemorates the peaceful union of two different cultures. 

Today, we take for granted the generous hospitality offered by the Native Americans to the newly arrived Pilgrims. We learn throughout our lives what this day is supposed to mean, yet when it comes to application we begin to draw blanks. As a society, we have replaced the original meaning of commemoration with mass consumption of food, football and parades.

Our country’s change of heart can be seen in the current proceedings of the North Dakota Access Pipeline situation. For example, its most recent gift given to the native population was a bracing shower in freezing temperatures while they were attempting to protect their sacred lands. This pipeline has remained a headline issue that became highlighted during election season and has thrived due to the controversy of the situation.

The most recent controversy comes to head in an ironic twist, as protesters have been mowed down by the very resource that they have been fighting to protect. Amid struggles to protect reserved Sioux land, protesters have spent the recent months protesting the construction of the North Dakota Access Pipeline. The primary reasoning behind this now-classic struggle is all in the name of human rights and how large corporations have been suppressing these intangible rights for decades. It is seen by the native population that protecting their land is now an even higher priority than what it once was.

The original plan for the North Dakota Access Pipeline had intended for it to run just north of the capital of the state, Bismarck. Seeing as there was mass opposition to these plans, the construction company decided to relocate the rest of the pipeline through the Standing Rock Sioux reservation, where its construction is currently being peacefully protested by a generous mix of people. The coincidence with the movement of the pipeline construction is that the majority of Bismarck is composed of a white population and therefore had a louder voicing of opinion in the entirety of the situation. Their complaints are the same as those of the residents of Standing Rock: potential water pollution from any possible runoff due to the pipeline’s activity in carrying oil. Even with the same concerns, the construction continues without regard to the protesters’ efforts that are driven by environmental and public health concerns in addition to simply not wanting the pipeline on their land.

What this whole situation represents is the blatant disregard for human rights when it gets in the way of potential profit for the corporations involved. This type of behavior has been exhibited across the world and has tended to lead to reforms — if not revolts — by those who have been oppressed by such corporations who seem to seek money over all else. It is an amazement that even though this land is protected by federal statutes, there has been no sort of government intervention in the assistance of helping these native people in securing their land against a private entity that they have no desire of allowing to desecrate their land and potentially their water supply.

If these sort of public outcries are listened to when they come from a white community, yet not one of minorities, then this stands as proof of the lack of true equal opportunity and representation within this country that we deem as modern America.

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