Oil, Blood, and Spirits: Pipelines and the Disruption of Sacred Grounds – abstract

Our 8th grade history textbooks preach of the glorious reach of a nation “from sea to shining sea”. A manifest destiny for the United States, somehow ignoring the accompanying genocide of American Indians and the underlying purpose of expansion: slavery.  The pattern continues. American Indian and slave burial grounds have been disrupted by our nation’s “progress” for years – as close as in Richmond, where the construction of a baseball stadium took place directly on top of an old African-American burial ground. It is the same manifest destiny, the same progress that drives the destruction of our natural splendor – from Alaskan oil extraction to fracking to the pollution of waterways. Supporting this effort to exsanguinate every last vein of these United States is the construction of pipelines — a drip that only extracts and fails to replenish.

Dominion’s Atlantic Coast Pipeline falls directly at the crossroads of these two related facets of consumptive practices in the United States. Researching the specific sites of disruption (American Indian and enslaved burial grounds), as well as the historical precedence behind destruction of burial grounds and the spiritual significance of such an act in the affected cultures provides a deeply contextual way to oppose the pipeline. Indigenous resistance has been very successful in the past, and with luck this research can be distributed to foment opposition. Organized into an essay, drawing from the work of authors such as Reza Negarestani and Eduardo Galeano, this data can effectively communicate the parallel processes by which people of color and the natural world are both destroyed in the name of capital.