Gary Anderson

Gary Anderson

Situated midway across our continent, Standing Rock North Dakota is a long way from downtown Bath. Yet, twice in recent weeks, citizens of Maine’s Midcoast have gathered here in solidarity with those opposing completion of the Dakota Access Pipeline. The feared dangers of that distant project have no immediate consequence for this area, but for some hereabouts it’s still seen as a fight worth joining.

Even if the DAPL never leaks, the exploitative harm of carbon based energy is a certain liability to all peoples everywhere. Then there’s the matter of continued subjugation of the already marginalized. More fundamental still: “Is it worth risking our nation’s drinking water for the sake of short-term profit?”

Living in Bath, we are blessed with so much, especially an abundance of fresh water. Despite one of the worst droughts in memory, here there is no limitation on water consumption or threat to its safety. Unlike so much of America, we don’t have to worry about wildfires or water contamination. Unlike some municipalities in Maine, our water supply hasn’t been sold off to Nestle posing as Poland Spring.

Bath’s greatest blessing is that our fair city resides in a state that usually garners as little national news worthiness as North Dakota did prior to its pipeline notoriety. For the most part, we remain just another statehood dismissed within mainstream media’s national attention. Not much happening in Maine is of concern to those “from away.” Google “Portland” and it will default to the West Coast’s inspiration for “Portlandia.” Try as it might, our largest city is still a quaint backwater approximation of metropolitan life. And that’s all to the good. Remembering Portland in the ‘70s, I can’t say that adopting Big City ways has been all that beneficial. Fortunately, some of its earlier Mainer charms remain if you really work hard to ferret them out.

America’s national consciousness doesn’t really consider Maine part of the “lower-48.” That’s altogether fine by me, except when I’m away and trying to find out what the weather might be back home. As far as the Weather Channel’s concerned, any significant meteorological impacts to New England end in Boston. Maine is that odd appendage way up over there, hanging way out into the North Atlantic. When away and trying to explain that you are from Maine, most people have no clue as to its actual location or size. “Lobster” is Maine’s one word summation.

Since electing our current governor that has changed somewhat. Right from the get-go Paul LePage has done as much as he can to keep Maine in the national eye. Thanks to his governance, Vacationland is steadily being geographically reappraised as the northern most outpost of Dixie.

Like North Dakota with its scenic prairies and badlands, Maine is foremost tied to its geographical uniqueness. Maine’s land and waters still dominate its identity. They still provide the main sustenance for its livability and economic base.

For those still identifying with their indigenous heritage as First People of the First Nation, land and water are not something to be exploited but part of who one is, part and parcel of one’s sense of completeness. Land and water are to be inhabited without ownership, and only borrowed from following generations.

The Standing Rock Sioux’s protest has been joined by 375 other tribes, including Maine’s Wabanaki, and many allies in the environmental and civil rights movements. Last week they were joined by 500 clergy members. The Sioux’s leadership contests the legality of the pipeline’s endangerment of what remains the last remnant of what their people once freely inhabited and shared. The government that “reserved” some of that ancestral land now finds itself once again reluctant to honor its commitment to native sovereignty. The Texas based corporation investing in the pipeline couldn’t be farther removed from the mindset of those opposing an ongoing legacy of cultural and natural degradation. They’re interested only in the narrow window of opportunity at hand in profitably transferring a commodity whose value steadily decreases as its production increases. They see the pipeline as a gainful two-year business enterprise. They loose no sleep over creating yet another scar upon the land America’s indigenous peoples never violated. The Sioux’s opposition to the project is based on a seven generations model of stewardship.

#No-DAPL is a growing movement that reaches from coast to coast and well beyond. Those in Bath that have taken up this cause are now hoping to persuade local government to voice solidarity with opponents of the pipeline’s present route through contested tribal land.

“The undersigned citizens of Bath are requesting the City Council to write The Honorable Dave Archambault, II,Chairman of Standing Rock Sioux tribe, conveying Bath’s solidarity with the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe in its opposition to the Dakota Access Pipeline.”

That signature gathering will be ongoing in Bath prior to a presentation at the next City Council meeting on Wednesday, Dec. 7. Those interested in becoming involved, in gathering signatures or other #NoDAPL participation, can contact Shelley Little, [email protected], (207) 389-4572.

Our own regional identity can only be strengthened by such identification and solidarity.

Gary Anderson lives in Bath

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