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Keystone pipeline construction to start in Montana

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A Lakota man at a ceremony in South Dakota. PHOTO BY ANDREW JAMES

COVID-19 spread heightens fears in local communities

“Town Crier” newsletter – Briefs from the Region (1) – 4/2/20

Rural and tribal community leaders and citizens across northern Montana and the Dakotas, South Dakota especially, are terrified by the prospect of thousands of workers flocking to northern Montana this month to begin construction on the Keystone XL pipeline, according to the Associated Press, potentially bringing COVID-19 with them to areas ill-equipped for large outbreaks. “Faith Spotted Eagle, an environmental activist and member of the Yankton Sioux Tribe in South Dakota, said she’s reminded of her grandmother’s stories about the tribe’s struggles to survive small pox and the Spanish flu,” reports the AP.  Such a comparison should not be taken lightly by modern Americans who, just like the Native American populations that were decimated by foreign diseases in the 19th century, are wildly unprepared for a disaster in the form of a virus. Eleven worker camps are proposed across Montana, South Dakota and Nebraska, and workers have already been arriving in Glasgow, Montana, awaiting orders to begin construction. Native communities across the proposed pipeline turf are especially concerned for their people, already prone to heart conditions and diabetes, along with the spate of drugs and sex trafficking that have accompanied area oil ventures of the past. Viral and societal concerns aside, the move has provoked fresh ire of environmentalists across the continent.

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