Capitalism, land and natural resources, racism, and exploitation have multifaceted relationships. Capitalism generally relies on the exploitation of land and natural resources, as well as the exploitation of marginalized groups of people. This action frequently results in the concentration of money and power in a few elites’ hands while the rights of the masses are undermined, and families broken (Lubet, 2018). This relationship is currently undergoing in North Dakota, where the Dakota Access Pipeline has displaced Native American people and devastated sacred sites (Mclaughlin, 2017). The pipeline was supposed to cross the Missouri River north of Bismarck. Still, it was rerouted to the Standing Rock Sioux Reservation, partly because it would be cheaper and faster to install. The arrival of this decision ignored the consultation of the tribe, and it placed the pipeline close to the tribe’s water source, on which they rely for drinking, irrigation, and other purposes (Campbell, 2017). The tribe has protested the pipeline’s development, but their efforts have been futile thus far.
North Dakota’s scenario illustrates how capitalism, land, and natural resources may benefit specific communities at the expense of other groups who experience marginalization and exploitation. The scenario also draws attention to the current problem of Native American land rights in the United States. Native American populations have been evicted from their land for generations through bloodshed, deception, and broken treaties, like the case of Bitterroot in the 19th century (Streep, 2018) (Massat et al., 2016). This process of dispossession is still ongoing today, where Native American communities are facing eviction from their land to make room for development projects.
Deloria Jr. contends in his article that the United States government has done more significant harm to Native Americans today than in the past. As one example, he cites the construction of the Dakota Access Pipeline. He further claims that the US government is grabbing Indian territory for irrigation/dam projects without contacting the tribe or considering their interests. Deloria’s case emphasizes the ongoing issue of Native American land rights in the United States. Native Americans have faced eviction from their country for generations, and the practice continues today (Deloria, 1988). The Dakota Access Pipeline is just one example of how capitalistic profit motives led to exploiting natural resources, adversely affecting local communities.
Campbell, P. (2017). ‘Those are our Eiffel Towers, our pyramids’: Why standing rock is about much more than oil. The Guardian.
Deloria, V. (1988). Custer Died for your sins: An Indian manifesto; with new pref. Univ. of Oklahoma Press.
Lubet, S. (2018). On Juneteenth, let’s commit to ending separation of parents and children at the border. CNN.
Mclaughlin, T. (2017). North Dakota governor warns pipeline protesters of possible march flooding. Reuters.
Streep, A. (2018). What the Arlee warriors were playing for. The New York Times.