The pipeline protests at the Standing Rock Sioux Reservation last year drew national attention. Inside Energy teamed up with Reveal, from the Center for Investigative Reporting and PRX, to go behind the scenes and meet the young people who started the fight. The program looks at how those protests put at-risk teens on a healthier path, and how other Native American tribes are grappling with energy projects on their sovereign land.
The story of the Dakota Access pipeline is coming to a close – construction is finished and crude oil will soon be flowing from North Dakota’s Bakken region to Illinois. But back on the Standing Rock reservation, the young people who started the protest say fighting a losing battle was worth it. Being in the spotlight made the tribe look inward. Young people are once again becoming proud of their heritage, and starting to heal from hundreds of years of trauma. Inside Energy’s Leigh Paterson reports that this trauma had manifested itself in alarming rates of substance abuse, depression and suicide, and now, for the first time in decades, these indicators are going down.
Next, we head north to Canada where indigenous tribes, known as First Nations, also are fighting against oil pipelines. Just like in the U.S., they’re going through the courts, which have recently said that First Nations have a big say in what happens on their land. Reveal reporter Patrick Michels brings us the story of the Tsleil-Waututh First Nation near Vancouver. Leaders are staking their lawsuit on a little-known historical fact in their part of Canada: Tribes never signed treaties with the government handing over their lands.
And finally, Reveal producer Ike Sriskandarajah helps tell the story of the Southern Ute tribe, which instead of fighting energy development decided to embrace it. The tribe has become a successful energy producer and exporter of oil and gas. The Southern Ute are a wealthy nation and the population enjoys services that are lacking on most reservations. But this hasn’t been without controversy, as this industry has raised environmental and cultural concerns among some residents.
Reveal is a weekly radio program produced by The Center for Investigative Reporting and PRX. For more, check out their website and subscribe to their podcast.
Inside Energy, in collaboration with Fast Forward Films, produced a hour-long documentary called Beyond Standing Rock, now airing on PBS stations nationwide.