Anthropology Essay


The topic must be a current event about an Indigenous (Native American) issue in the United States. The type of paper must be analysis. The paper must be a minimum of 3 to 5 full pages with a reference page.


Issues facing Indigenous/ Native Americans

Issues facing Indigenous/ Native Americans

Native American tribes have for long been exposed to discrimination and negligence. Their issues have either gone unnoticed or have been severely undervalued by the government. This has been caused in part by the overconcentration on other minority issues and the lack of organization and focus by the indigenous to defend their rights effectively. The purpose of this paper is to focus on the issue of mass policing and loss of native land to federal activities. In particular, this paper will look into the Dakota access pipeline that would transport oil from the Bakken Oil fields in North Dakota to the plains in Illinois (Peralta and Rott, 2016).

Firstly, many issues relating to the discrimination against native tribes have gone severely unreported. This groups makes up less than 1% of the American population, yet areas such as South Dakota have an extremely high representation of Native people in the criminal and penal system (Peralta and Rott, 2016). This issue is further worsened by the overlapping and uncertainty between the native authorities the federal and state legislations. Native communities have complicated and internal cultural guidelines that govern their social, political and economic values (Gagnon, 2011). The state and federal government have for the longest time avoided any intrusion into their systems which has in turn led to the negligence of the group.

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The Dakota Access Pipeline project is a battle between the Energy Transfer Partners and the Native Americans led by the Standing Rock Sioux. The Energy Transfer Partners (ETP) have continuously championed the project to be of great economic value and which will serve the purpose of improving the efficiency of oil transportation which had previously relied on the trains running across the land.

Yet this project is not the first that Sioux tribe has protested against in Dakota. In 1958, the Oahe Dam was built to provide hydroelectric power and control flooding of the Missouri River. While the project served its purpose, it severely damaged the Standing Rocks community and cause flooding. Many people had to surrender their land and relocate out of their community. In the context of this pipeline project, the community has projected severe environmental activities on their lands. This poses the question of the actual consequence or benefit of pipeline over rail and road transportation. In reality, each of these transportation mechanisms bears great environmental implications. Pipelines have accounted for a great deal of oil spills and pollutions in America. This only means that the driving force for this project is the financial benefits and the fact that pipeline is the most cost effective. These benefits will largely fall on the operators, state and federal governments with the environmental consequences all falling on the Sioux tribe (Meyer, 1993).

Native tribes have for the longest time been involved in fights and protests against the sale of their lands (Coleman, 1993). Native Americans across America have had to live with the knowledge that most of their native land was taken over leaving them greatly marginalized and impoverished. This land grabbing has proceeded to the small areas that they were forced into which now poses the threat of leaving Indigenous people, completely landless. Other examples include the Apache Nation in Arizona which is struggling to prevent the sale of their Oak Flat to foreign mining organizations or the Kanaka Maoli in Hawaii who are defending Mauna Kea against the construction of a telescope (Senese, 1991). The story is often the same and repetitive: the natives protest but often lose to the government only for them to bear the resulting consequences.

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The Sioux tribe has suffered for centuries through projects and land battles. After the War of 1812, the discovery of gold widely undermined the relations and independence of the Indian communities. Later, multitudes of miners would cross the Sioux land to the gold fields (Meyer, 1993). This brought diseases such as smallpox and measles to the Sioux Indians who had no immunity and whose economic power had already been impoverished. It is even suggested that diseases during this period wiped out nearly half of the tribe’s population. In addition, the tribe were left unaware of the fact that their nation was no longer regarded as a independent state which placed them in a position where they were viewed as a minority that was an inconvenience.

It has been one hit after another for this group, they were exterminated by the Texans as their jurisdiction grew and watched the buffalo herds being wiped out under the Army policy. The government has since made open policies to assimilate or otherwise terminate the Indian unit up until the 1960s when attempts were made to enforce civil rights for the tribe. In 1979, they were finally allowed to practice their religion without persecution. This allowed them to openly showcase their rituals, songs, festival and native languages (Gagnon, 2011). Even so, they have continued to be exploited for their lands and resources which they have carefully preserved at a time when Industrialization and commercialization took over America.

It remains uncertain whether the Sioux tribe will lose this battle to prevent the Access Pipeline. The recent outrage against oppression of Native communities in the world has also been reflected in America. This means that for the first time, they might have a shot at preventing the project on grounds of environmental degradation. The government and nation which has been founded on Civil rights and freedom from everyone must consider the environmental consequences of this tribe as well as the negligence that they have endured as Americans. The people have to be placed above other economic or political gratifications if justice is to be seen to be done. This project leaders and other authorities must first apply a widespread analysis of the environmental and social consequences of the project before it is finalized.


Coleman, M. (1993). American Indian Children at School, 1850-1930. Jackson, MS: University of Mississippi Press.

Gagnon, G. (2011). Culture and Customs of the Sioux Indians. Santa Barabara, CA: Greenwood.

Meyer, R. (1993). History of the Santee Sioux: United States Indian Policy on Trial. Lincoln, NE: University of Nebraska Press.

Peralta, E & Rott, N. (2016). Army Corps Denies Easement for Dakota Access Pipeline. Retrieved on December 4, 2016 from NPR:

Senese, G. (1991). Self-Determination and the Social Education of Native Americans. New York, NY: Praeger.

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