Starting on 4th July, a pipeline leak on Fort Berthold Indian Reservation spilled 1 million gallons of saltwater, a byproduct of oil and gas production.
Many Native Americans on Fort Berthold Indian Reservation are engaged in finding balance between the potential prosperity oil and gas development can bring and preserving a land which is sacred according to their cultural and religious beliefs.
Crestwood Midstream Partners LP, whose subsidiary Arrow Pipeline LLC owns the pipeline, says the toxic fluid travelled a snaking, nearly 2-mile path down into a ravine, eradicating a 200-yard stretch of vegetation along its way. But the company says they lack proof.
The leadership of the Mandan, Hidatsa and Arikara Nation says over the past few years, oil and gas development has rescued the reservation from the poverty that afflicts many reservations across the United States.
We should all be basking in wealth, but we’re not,” said 60-year-old Mandaree resident Katherine Young Bear. “We still have poverty — huge, horrible poverty — on the reservation.”
Mandaree, the city with a population of just under 600 according to the 2010 census.
Ruth Anna Buffalo compares the impact of oil and gas to the building of a dam that flooded her relatives’ homes in the 1950s.
“Once this is all over they’re going to up and leave, with frack socks laying all over and saltwater spills in our water that we drink,” Harriet Goodiron, who works in small gas station convenience store said. “Now, after that spill happened, whenever I brush my teeth, do I know that the water I’m drinking, is it safe? Is it going to give me cancer one day?”