Everyone is Downstream

Hartman Deetz | 10.31.2016

The following is the fifth installment in our Dismantling Racism in the Food System seriesClick here to download this Backgrounder in full. To view this Backgrounder in Spanish click here, in French here, or in Portuguese here.

I left California late at night, later than expected. My friend arrived outside along with another woman whom I was meeting for the first time. I jammed my duffel bag and camping supplies into a car that already seemed full to the brim, and we left for Standing Rock.

We drove Interstate 80 across Nevada, Utah, and into Wyoming. I was struck, once again, by the beauty of the land in this country – great salt plains, rocky mountain faces, multi-colored hillsides, pine forests. We are truly blessed to live in a land of such grand, diverse landscapes.

The weight of the earth and sky particularly impressed me in the great plains of Dakota prairie land – sparsley accented with small rolling hills, occasional trees along creeks, and streams that then feed into mighty rivers. The world is cut in half by a flat horizon, reflected by the scale of the nighttime sky with the stars, Milky Way, and the Northern Lights. Or in the day, under the shifting pillars of clouds. This is quintessential farm land of mythical Americana proportions. Of tornadoes and Dorothy, beef ranchers, wagon trains… and Indians. The shrieks, the panic, the disdain, the hatred instilled in that Hollywood line still lingers on for some in the Dakotas.

The Dakota Access Pipeline, also known as the Bakken Pipeline, is an oil infrastructure project planned to bring fracked oil from North Dakota through South Dakota, Iowa, and Illinois, where it will then connect with existing rail and pipeline networks, transporting highly volatile crude oil to the Gulf Coast.

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