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While much attention has rightly been paid to those who are courageously protecting water resources and sacred land on North Dakota’s Standing Rock Sioux Reservation, few mainstream commentators have situated Standing Rock as part of a larger political struggle for self-determination and survival. Linking the politics surrounding the Dakota Access Pipeline project to Flint, Michigan’s lead-poisoning crisis is critical for understanding how race and class informs presumed social risk, vulnerability to premature death and access to democratic decision-making.
For 40 years, former American Indian Movement (AIM) activist Leonard Peltier has been in the clutches of the U.S. prison system –The Iron House of the whites, as indigenous people call them – on trumped up murder charges. Now, as he suffers poor health and an abdominal aortic aneurism, time is no longer on his side. The aneurism, diagnosed just weeks ago, threatens his very life, so supporters of Leonard are demanding his freedom, so he doesn’t perish in the Iron House.