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Political Narratives Ruin the Environment and Increase the Numbers of Indigenous Homeless

The world of politics and environmental issues can be a landmine. It’s easy to get lost and not know what to vote for. Here in the United States, the idea of progress can look appealing, but understanding the effects is tricky. There have been two major events recently that would have affected the indigenous life. However, because indigenous people were able to stand up with the support of the environmental movement, they were able to prevent more homelessness within their communities. 

Mining in Alaska is a topic that comes up often when talking about “progressing” the state and its economy. In Alaska, there is an abundance of raw metals that many companies would love to get their hands on. With mining resources comes deforestation, mountaintop removal, and an excessive amount of the waste/debris. These tactics ultimately come with the steep price of hurting the wildlife and the indigenous people who have lived there for centuries. The Pebble Mine is a large-scale operation in Alaska for the copper and gold there. This area happens to be where the world’s largest sockeye salmon run is. This operation would cause the salmon population to trickle down to extinction. At the same time, the indigenous population would need to deal with chemical leaching, their food source depleting, and their way of life and connection to their ancestors destroyed. There are other groups that would be affected by this, such as fishermen and other animals that rely on the salmon population, but the benefit is that it may help Alaska with gaining more “progress” in terms of wealth and growing their more urban areas.

A similar situation is happening over the span of a couple of states. There is a huge oil mine operation happening in the United States that starts at the top of North Dakota and ends in Texas. This pipeline already exists but some government officials are trying to make a new route. The Keystone XL Pipeline project uses the narrative of having a shorter path for the oil by cutting through two new states and creating a new path in two existing states. This would be for the benefit of the United States in selling oil and chipping away at our country’s debt, but changing the pipeline’s path will bring new expenses and new problems, including leaks, invading indigenous land, and running through one of the largest water supplies in the US. At the moment, there isn’t much that can be done about it already existing, but having new areas involved is something we can prevent. There are many different groups advocating for the indigenous people, the native vegetation, and our water supply. 

Indigenous life is hard as is but adding the neglect of our government makes it harder. These two incidents were very close to happening and contributing to the increase in homelessness among indigenous people. Large projects like these are things we need to look out for when it comes to voting and how our voices matter. There have been many propositions for the “betterment” of America that come with a downside. These are the ones we need to look into before voting yes.

Sources: 

https://www.pbs.org/wgbh/frontline/article/alaska-pebble-mine-bristol-bay/

https://www.bbnc.net/our-corporation/pebble-mine/

https://www.nrdc.org/stories/alaska-natives-lead-unified-resistance-pebble-mine

https://www.nrdc.org/stories/what-keystone-pipeline

https://sites.uab.edu/humanrights/2021/02/15/the-keystone-xl-pipeline-and-americas-history-of-indigenous-suppression/

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3274601/

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