The Johns Hopkins Center for American Indian Health was overjoyed last week to learn that the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers will not grant permission for the Dakota Access Pipeline to be built near the Standing Rock Indian Reservation.
As part of the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health, we share and honor the belief that water sustains life. The original plan to drill the pipeline under the Missouri River threatened to contaminate the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe’s drinking water.
Water is sacred to Native people. Contamination of water would also increase health disparities among tribal nations that already suffer the worst health inequalities of any ethnic or racial US group.
Our work with tribal partners over the past two decades has provided key lessons about the very nature of public health, including the importance of protecting the critical relationships among all living things to protect the health of the natural world.
Letter of highest respect and support sent to Standing Rock Sioux
Earlier this fall, we sent a letter of support signed by our director, Allison Barlow, and our Director Emeritus Mathuram Santosham to Honorable Chairman Archambault of the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe. Again today, we say that we stand wholeheartedly with the Standing Rock Sioux Nation for its efforts to promote public consciousness necessary for environmental justice and conservation of their sacred lands and natural resources entrusted to the Oceti Sakowin through the 1851 Ft Laramie Treaty.
We are grateful for the leadership of the Standing Rock Sioux Nation, and for other tribal nations, for many reasons including:
- They are telling the world that human life is integrally dependent on the health of our environment
- They are telling the world that diminishing this belief will only yield destructive consequences to our existing biodiversity and ecosystem.
- They are telling the world that disrespect and abuse to the well-being of American Indian lifeways—witnessed by people everywhere as it occurred as part of the Dakota Access Pipeline construction—will only serve to harm us all.
Water Protectors Among Us
Four members of the Celebrating Life team and Baltimore-based psychologist Dr. Mary Cwik visited Standing Rock to demonstrate their full support for the water protectors in the photos at left and above.
Dr. Kyle Hill, a psychologist of Ojibwe, Dakota, and Lakota origin as well as an associate faculty member with our center, joined fellow veterans in traveling to Standing Rock to stand alongside the water protectors and protect them from violence.
Others have been focusing attention on this critical issue in Washington, D.C. Dr. Summer Rosenstock, a biostatistician with our JHU Center, and her son Daniel participated in a march to the White House. Health educator Sarah Stern, a member of the Cherokee Nation, also took part in two rallies against the pipeline in D.C. and kept our Johns Hopkins Center informed of what was happening on the ground.
We are grateful for the opportunities to be part of an important movement and look forward to continuing to work alongside American Indian tribes to build a brighter future for all Americans.