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Spotlight on France

Hip hop performer asks France to support Standing Rock Pipeline fight

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Hip hop performer Nataanii Means, Native American Nation Lakota
Hip hop performer Nataanii Means, Native American Nation Lakota Nataanii Means

Large numbers of indigenous nations are camping out near the Standing Rock Sioux Reservation in protest over an oil pipeline they say will pollute water and damage sacred sites.


The Paris-based CSIA-Nitassinan, a support group for native Americans, recently invited members of the camp to share a story that pits oil revenues against the need for clean water.

"I can't expect the people in France to sympathise or feel how we feel and what we're living everyday on reservations," says Nataanii Dez Means, a hip hop performer who's currently camping out at Sacred Stone near the Standing Rock Sioux reservation in north Dakota. But he's determined to try. 

"People see America as a big great country, we see it from the total opposite end," he tells RFI.

"We're the ones drinking uranium, contaminated water, fracking water that we have to wash our clothes in, that we have to give our horses, our cattle, our sheep. We're eating those animals. And we want the rest of the world to see this and back us up."

Nataanii is the son of the late Russell Means, a leader in the American Indian movement and key figure in the 1973 occupation of Wounded Knee.

Inspired by his father's example, he's speaking out against the Dakota Access Oil Pipeline, in his eyes just another example of the failure to respect land rights agreed in the 19th century.

The pipeline would run within a kilometre of the Standing Rock Sioux reservation and go beneath the Missouri River.

While the Texas-based Energy Transfer Partners and its supporters say it will enable crude oil from North Dakota to reach major refineries and reduce the need for rail and lorry transport, opponents says the high risk of leakage will pollute their drinking water.

On 9 October a Federal judge rejected their bid to halt the 3.5 billion dollar pipeline. Despite sometimes violent confrontation between local authorities and camp dwellers, documented by Democracy Now journalist Amy Goodman, Nataanii Means says they won't back down and are preparing to winter in.

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