Native American Lacrosse Star Perfectly Explains The Problem With the Dakota Access Pipeline

“You don’t care about the people and you’re doing this for the money”

As an attackman for SUNY Albany, Lyle Thompson dominated college lacrosse like no player has before, setting Division I records for most career points and assists. He earned the Tewaaraton Trophy for the country’s most outstanding player—twice. Now playing in lacrosse’s indoor and outdoor professional leagues, Thompson is attacking a new target: the Dakota Access Pipeline.

Thompson, a Native American who grew up on the Onondaga Reservation in New York, spoke with New York Daily News this week about the proposed pipeline in North and South Dakota that has prompted an unprecedented level of protest in favor of native land rights.

“It’s just sad to me,” Thompson said. “You take this to another level and look at what America’s about and what exactly is going on there. You’re basically saying you don’t care about the people and you’re doing this for the money.”

The $3.7 billion pipeline, planned by a subsidiary of Texas corporation Energy Transfer Partners, would cut through the Standing Rock Sioux Reservation in North and South Dakota. It has been widely criticized for the environmental threats that potential leaks pose to soil, water in the Missouri River and Lake Oahe, and other sacred sites on the reservation.

In an attempt to stop the pipeline, thousands of people have been camping at the proposed construction site, including members of dozens of native tribes from around the country. The Standing Rock tribe also filed suit in August against the Army Corps of Engineers, the federal agency that issued the environmental permit.

This week, the Army issued a statement saying construction on the disputed land “cannot occur because the Army has not made a final decision on whether to grant an easement,” and determined that additional environmental analysis is needed. In response, Energy Transfer Partners filed a petition with a federal judge asking to continue construction, which President-elect Donald Trump has supported (Trump is an investor in Energy Transfer Partners.)

Thompson, for his part, has started retweeting #NoDAPL tweets to his 15,000 followers to raise awareness. He also has spoken out against the use of controversial sports logos depicting Native Americans in stereotypical and/or insulting manners, including the logos of the Washington Redskins and Cleveland Indians.

In his interview with Daily News, he minced no words about modern dispossession of native land.

“All you’re doing is disrespecting us,” Thompson said.

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