By Chris Hedges
April 29, 2019 "Information Clearing House" - THE BEAVER LAKE CREE NATION, Treaty No. 6 Area, Canada. I am driving down a rutted dirt road with Eric Lameman, a member of the Cree nation.
“Over there,” he says, pointing out where he was born in a tent 61 years ago.
We stop the car and look toward a wooded grove.
“That’s the mass grave,” he says softly, indicating a clearing where dozens of Cree who died in a smallpox epidemic over a century ago are buried.
The Cree have been under relentless assault since the arrival of the European colonialists in the 1500s. Now the 500 inhabitants of the Cree reserve, where many live in small, boxy prefabricated houses, are victims of a new iteration of colonial exploitation, one centered on the extraction of oil from the vast Alberta tar sands. This atrocity presages the destruction of the ecosystem on which they depend for life. If the Cree do not stop the exploiters this time, they, along with the exploiters, will die.
The reserve is surrounded by the tar sands, one of the largest concentrations of crude oil in the world. The sands produce 98% of Canada’s oil and are the United States’ largest source of imported oil. This oil, among the dirtiest fossil fuels on earth, is a leading cause of atmospheric pollution, releasing massive amounts of carbon dioxide. The production and consumption of one barrel of tar sands crude oil release 17% more carbon dioxide than production and consumption of a standard barrel of oil.
Tar sands oil is a thick, mucky, clay-like substance that is infused with a hydrocarbon called bitumen. The oil around Beaver Lake is extracted by a process known as steam-assisted gravity drainage, which occurs under the earth and is similar to fracking. Farther north, extraction is done by strip-mining the remote boreal forest of Alberta, 2 million acres of which have already been destroyed. The destruction of vast forests, sold to timber companies, and the scraping away of the topsoil have left behind poisoned
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