We will write a custom Critical Writing on Indigenous Peoples’ Rights and Dakota Access Pipeline specifically for you
301 certified writers online
Settler colonialism remains a major challenge that continues to erase the political, economic, cultural, and social aspects of many indigenous people. This is the sad reality despite the fact that various laws and regulations have been presented to protect more minority and indigenous groups from every form of abuse. The United States (U.S.) settler disruption is a critical issue that should be reexamined in order to understand the major challenges associated with environmental sustainability and climate change.1 This paper uses the case of Dakota Access Pipeline to describe how settler injustice threatens the rights of indigenous people in the United States and beyond.2 The discussion supports the use of powerful movements and legal frameworks to ensure the ethical and moral concerns affecting these underserved populations are addressed. The presented discussion will be supported using several texts such as Shue’s “Basic Rights” and the United Nation’s Declaration on Rights of Indigenous Peoples.
Detailed Explanation of the Moral Issue
The article “The Dakota Access Pipeline, and Environmental Injustice, and U.S. Colonialism” gives a detailed analysis of the major issues affecting many ingenious populations in Dakota and Lakota. To begin with, the Dakota Access Pipeline (DAPL) is a project intended to offer cheap transportation for oil and gas. Although it is indicated that the pipeline meets the required environmental and safety standards, the agreeable truth is that it is a major threat to the moral rights of the affected people. This is the case because it will pose numerous risks to the quality of water in Dakota and destroy the people’s cultural heritage.3 The current construction, according to the article, has destroyed ancestral sites, burial places, and cultural heritages.
Shue indicates clearly that every organization and government has a role to fulfill the basic rights of every person. The tasks undertaken by the government should fulfill the rights of every indigenous or subsistence population. This should be achieved by preventing deprivation. Duty should be enforced while at the same time creating strong institutions to support the needs of the people.4 That being the case, the DAPL project appears to ignore the rights of the people. For instance, their cultural values, burial sites, and natural resources appear to be threatened by the project. Similarly, the UN’s Declaration on the Rights of Ingenious Peoples goes further to explain why the rights of indigenous people must be taken seriously than ever before. For instance, Article 2 stipulates that indigenous persons should be free from any form of discrimination. They should be allowed to embrace and appreciate their indigenous identities and origins. In Article 5, it is clearly indicated that such people should be allowed to exercise their cultural, legal, and political values. Their cultural institutions must be respected while at the same time empowering them to participate in their unique traditional and social rituals. This information shows conclusively that the moral liberties and cultural freedoms of the indigenous people of Lakota and Dakota are at stake.
Main Argument on Indigenous Rights
The UN presents specific laws and provisions that support the moral rights of indigenous and underserved populations. The concept of moral obligation is a rule that dictates what is forbidden or permitted in a given society.5 The consequences of actions should also be considered whenever determining whatever amounts to a moral obligation. This fact explains why the actions undertaken by governments, corporations, and other people should be informed by the rights of the greatest number of people.
The case of the DAPL therefore reveals a number of moral rights possessed by the affected citizens. For instance, it is evident that the construction project has led to the excavation of cultural sites and ancient burial places. Such sites should be safeguarded and protected because they support the cultural values and beliefs of these indigenous people. The people are also bona-fide residents of the affected regions. That being the case, their moral rights include access to clean water, safe environment, and cultural protection.6 These moral rights should be taken seriously if the liberties of more indigenous people are to be protected.
Main Argument on Duties of Businesses
Corporations and business entities have a huge obligation to ensure the rights of every underserved person are safeguarded. To begin with, businesses should focus on the unique provisions and rights of every indigenous population. For instance, it is appropriate to engage in ethical business practices that do not undermine the cultural values, pinions, practices, and religious beliefs of indigenous people.7 This approach will ensure every business agenda is aimed at safeguarding the welfare of these people.
It is agreeable that businesses and firms are mandated to fulfill the basic rights of subsistence populations. They can achieve this goal by completing various obligations or duties. The first duty is to protect indigenous populations from every form of deprivation. It is also necessary to design powerful institutions that can prevent the implementation of specific incentives that violate the rights of such populations. They should go further to embrace the concept of corporate social responsibility (CSR). This kind of practice is necessary because it guides corporations and business entities to undertake various actions that promote the moral rights, freedoms, and liberties of every underserved population. By so doing, such business will provide aid to the deprived members of the society. Some of these beneficiaries include individuals who are affected by natural disasters or social failures that emerge whenever promoting various human services.
This knowledge explains why the major stakeholders in the DAPL have moral duties to protect the people of Lakota and Dakota. For instance, the Energy Transfer Partners (ETP) and the Army Corps of Engineers (ACE) should have collaborated in order to assess the environmental, social, and cultural issues that might emerge throughout the project period.8 They should have also consulted different community members in order to safeguard the rights of the indigenous persons. The companies should have also outlined the best strategies that can be undertaken in order to ensure the burial sites are not interfered with. The use of CSR would have led to adequate solutions to address the problems affecting these indigenous people.9 The government should have also embraced the best measures in order to ensure the freedoms, natural resources, cultural aspects, and moral values of the people were addressed.
Response to Criticisms
The above discussion shows conclusively that corporations have a moral obligation to protect the rights, freedoms, and cultural values of indigenous populations. This is also in accordance with the provisions of the United Nations.10 However, the case of the DAPL can be examined from a different perspective. For instance, some economists and experts might argue that the people in Dakota and across the country are in need of cheaper transportation methods. The completed project will have the potential to support the needs of the greatest number of people in the United States.
The concept of utilitarianism goes further to indicate that actions should be informed by their outcomes. This means that a specific action that promotes happiness for the greatest number of citizens should be considered ethical. This ethical theory will therefore be used by individuals who want to support the DAPL project. The proponents will go further to argue that the greatest number of citizens will be able to access cheaper gas and eventually lead better lives.11
Unfortunately, this notion is detestable because it does more harm to more indigenous people in Lakota and Dakota. This critic and reasoning is wrong because it might affect the experiences of more people in Dakota. The decision is also against the United Nation’s Declaration on Rights of Indigenous Peoples. This analysis explains why the DAPL project is erroneous and fails to fulfill the moral rights or needs of the affected Dakotans.12
Indigenous people have unique rights that must be respected by businesses, governments, and social institutions. The DAPL project appears to disregard the moral rights, cultural values, and traditions of the people of Dakota and Lakota. That being the case, it is appropriate for the involved stakeholders to consider the unique rights of the indigenous people before continuing with the project.13 Although some people might use the concept utilitarianism to support the benefits associated with DAPL project, the agreeable affect is that the idea does not safeguard the rights of the affected people. The concerned parties should therefore embrace the best initiatives in order to meet the ethical and moral rights of these underserved people.
Gordon, Sue. Recognition and Rights of Indigenous Peoples. Cengage: Cengage Learning, 2014.
Jeffrey, Renee. Reason and Emotion in International Ethics. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2014.
Get your first paper with 15% OFF
Mitchell, Terry, and Charis Enns. “The UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples: Monitoring and Realizing Indigenous Rights in Canada.” CIGI 39 (2014): 1-12.
Short, Damien, and Corinne Lennox. Handbook of Indigenous Peoples’ Rights. New York: Routledge, 2016.
Shue, Henry. Basic Rights: Subsistence, Affluence, and U.S. Foreign Policy. Princeton: Princeton University Press, 1996.
Westra, Laura. Environmental Justice and the Rights of Indigenous People. London: Earthscan, 2012.
Whyte, Kyle. “The Dakota Access Pipeline, Environmental Injustice, and U.S. Colonialism.” An International Journal of Indigenous Literature, Arts, & Humanities 1 (2017): 1-12.
- Kyle Whyte, “The Dakota Access Pipeline, Environmental Injustice, and U.S. Colonialism,” An International Journal of Indigenous Literature, Arts, & Humanities 1 (2017): 2.
- Damien Short and Corinne Lennox, Handbook of Indigenous Peoples’ Rights (New York: Routledge, 2016), 26.
- Henry Shue, Basic Rights: Subsistence, Affluence, and U.S. Foreign Policy (Princeton: Princeton University Press, 1996), 37.
- Sue Gordon, Recognition and Rights of Indigenous Peoples (Cengage: Cengage Learning, 2014), 59.
- Terry Mitchell and Charis Enns, “The UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples: Monitoring and Realizing Indigenous Rights in Canada,” CIGI 39 (2014): 2.
- Laura Westra, Environmental Justice and the Rights of Indigenous People (London: Earthscan, 2012), 54.
- Renee Jeffrey, Reason and Emotion in International Ethics (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2014), 68.
- Gordon, Recognition and Rights, 76.
- Ibid., 86.
- Shue, Basic Rights, 43.
- Ibid., 46.
- Ibid., 51.
- Jeffrey, Reason and Emotion, 86.