By Dervilla Keegan
A stand off between the Standing Rock Sioux tribe and an oil company developing a pipeline in Dakota is “everybody’s battle”, and symbolises a greater struggle with the fossil fuel industry according to farmers and members of Love Leitrim community group.
Members stood in solidarity beside the iconic Eagles Rock in Leitrim, a landmark that wouldn’t be out of place in the Dakota plains, where thousands of tribal members and leaders have converged making a settlement in an effort to block the Dakota Access Pipeline.
The $3.8 billion pipeline planned would travel across four states and carry nearly half a million barrels of crude oil daily from the Bakken oil fields in North Dakota to Illinois. However, tribal leaders say the pipeline through their homeland threatens their water supply, and crosses over sacred burial and heritage sites.
Many campaigners see its construction as echoing back to the historical mistreatment of Native American tribes. The pipeline was scrapped from its original route near Bismarck, primarily an ethnically white area on concerns over health and well-being. Instead it was diverted to the Sioux area without consultation with the effected tribes. Famine
The historical link between different tribes and Ireland since the time of the famine was not lost on the members of Love Leitrim. The Choctaw sent the equivalent of tens of thousands of dollars to the Irish during that period. Michael Gallagher one of the farmers wanted to send a message.
‘They are going through hard times now there and we want them to know that we haven’t forgotten and are there for them. We ask that their homeland be respected’
He also stressed, ‘We are simple people making a living from the land like our fathers before us. We hold a lot in common with the tribes affected. When your water is gone it’s gone forever, and we will have nothing to pass on to our children and grandchildren. We all have a duty to those who come after us”
Eddie Mitchell of Love Leitrim continued ‘We have our own struggles here with the oil and gas industry that’s a national struggle. But this is part of a greater fight with the fossil fuel industry worldwide. The experts are telling us when it comes to climate change we must keep two thirds of it in the ground. Then we shouldn’t keep pursuing it and risking peoples lives and livelihoods as we do that. That’s true for our brothers and sisters in Dakota, and true for us here as we call on all our politicians to back a ban on fracking in Ireland’.
He added, ‘This is everybody’s battle; each of us is affected by the burning of each other’s fuels. Its time for the greater good that we turn away from fossil fuels.“
A fundraiser is being held on Friday, 28 October in the Organic Centre, Rossinver, organised by Slow Food North West and all the proceeds are going to the tribal standoff in Standing Rock. https://www.eventbrite.ie/e/slow-food-fundraising-dinner-tickets-28451025784?aff=efbevent