Water Protector Wants Better Future In The Shadow Of The Energy Industry

Mar 11, 2021

Enbridge Pipeline Water Protectors
Credit Giniw Collective

U.S. Senators Cynthia Lummis and John Barrasso were confrontational during Rep. Deb Haaland's confirmation hearing for Interior Secretary. It was over Haaland's anti-fracking stance.

Haaland would be the first Native American appointed to the role of Interior Secretary. Haaland has voiced an anti-fracking stance in the past, an unpopular opinion in places like Wyoming.

Senator Lummis has even filed to block Haaland's appointment due to concerns about her ability to prioritize the extractive energy industry. But as global warming becomes more serious, Indigenous activists are asking lawmakers to put the environment over capital.

Big Wind is Northern Arapaho from the Wind River Indian Reservation and is currently in Minnesota as a water protector. Big Wind wants Wyoming leaders to step up for future generations.

They said, "And I don't think that I'm hypocrite for wanting something better. I think it is our duty to leave something better for future generations."

Big Wind says that becoming self sustainable and learning how to hunt, fish, and survive is a core belief. They said extractive energy industries undermine that way of life.

The Wind River Indian Reservation is dependent on oil and gas, much like the rest of Wyoming. And while tribal leaders are looking for ways to step away from that dependency, time is ticking on global warming, and the negative impacts of fracking on local Indigenous communities, like pollution, are growing.

Big Wind meets Indigenous people from all over the country, and sees how divisive it is to suggest moving away from fossil fuels.

They said, "You know as a water protector when I talk to other Indigenous people I see the similarities that we have in our communities where profits are dividing our communities. The cons outweigh the pros in this situation."

Big Wind burned their percap check that comes to tribal members as their portion of the tribe's oil and gas profits. They did so in protest of drilling and fracking on public and tribal lands.