Man Camps, Fossil Fuels and Murdered Indigenous Women – The Cultural Genocide Continues

October 21st, 2019

By Nikki Harper

Staff Writer for Wake Up World

Across North America, the numbers of missing and murdered indigenous women and girls is staggering, and shaming. A 2014 national investigation in Canada found that more than 1000 women had been murdered in the previous 30 years [1]. With little action being taken by North American authorities, indigenous women have begun to collect and collate the statistics themselves [2], and their voices are increasingly highlighting a shocking link between missing and murdered indigenous women, trafficked women and fossil fuel extraction.

When fossil fuel extraction takes place on tribal lands, companies bring in hundreds of non-native workers, housing them in so-called ‘man camps’.  “These man camps that follow the black snake are where the trafficking is happening. If you put a pin marker in every place where indigenous women are missing, they’re in very close proximity to man camps and pipelines,” says Snohomish activist Pamela Chelalekem Bond [3].

The statistics back up Pamela’s views. A horrifying 4 in 5 native women have experienced violence, and more than 1 in 2 have suffered sexual violence. 96% of these assaults are carried out by white or non-tribal men [4].

The Canadian report highlighted the fact that many tribal reservations have no police. There is a lack of trust between indigenous peoples and the authorities, so many crimes against women are not reported. Where they are reported, they are often lost in the complex web of jurisdiction between tribal, local and state police [1]

Crucially, non-tribal men cannot be arrested or prosecuted by tribal authorities for a crime committed on tribal land. This means that men can assault indigenous women knowing that there is virtually no risk of them being held to account for their crimes. And tribal authorities report that when they send reports to the FBI or other law enforcement, two thirds of those reports are not accepted for investigation [5].

After all, these are only native women. Does anyone really care? Is anyone really listening to what goes on at these man camps? Many native women fear not.

“Today what our man camps look like—they’re all over. Here on the water [in Seattle] we have ships. Those ships go into Alaska and they set up for their cruise on Alaskan land, on indigenous lands, wherever they go—if it’s a farm or if it’s an oil Bakken—whatever it is, they set up and they bring in cheap labor of predominantly men that aren’t from our communities. Men that don’t know us, that have no ties to us, and that don’t respect our people, our women, our children.

They don’t respect Native people because history has portrayed us as savages, as drunks, as homeless people. As disposable. That’s what this country has said, time and time and time again, they have sent this message out that we are not protected. You can go and take the life of an indigenous woman or girl, you can murder a Native man, and nothing will happen to you.”

Roxanne White, activist from the Yakama, Nez Perce, Nooksack and Gros Ventre tribes [3]

The United Nations does recognise this as a major issue. UN Special Rapporteur James Anaya spoke in 2014 about indigenous women near fossil fuel extractions being vulnerable to sexually transmitted diseases and AIDS. Additionally, he stated, “Indigenous women have reported that the influx of workers into indigenous communities as a result of extractive projects also led to increased incidents of sexual harassment and violence, including rape and assault. In one case in which I intervened, indigenous girls walking to school were sexually assaulted by workers operating under a concession granted by the government for the extraction of forest resources in the indigenous peoples’ traditional territory.” [6]

And yet, the four largest banks in the US continue to invest heavily in fossil fuel extraction [7]. The scandal of so many missing and murdered indigenous women points towards greed being more important than human lives. Not only is the environmental cost huge, but the human cost is surely unbearable. Along with the shockingly high rates of murders of environmental activists, it seems that big business is content for indigenous peoples to pay the price for their greed.

An increase in public awareness can lead to change, but it’s vital that we as consumers become better at pressurising large corporations to look at what is being done in their names.

As Pamela Chelalekem Bond says,Our indigenous people are missing at a higher rate than any other nationality of people and it comes with man camps. It comes with the continued oppression and environmental genocide—a cultural genocide that continues to happen today. That black snake doesn’t just pollute the land and the water it’s on—it’s consuming indigenous people.” [3]

Article sources:

About the author:

Nikki Harper is a spiritualist writer, astrologer, and current editor for Wake Up World.


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