This viral tweet about Thanksgiving and Native Americans deserves our attention.

A tweet that's gone viral days before Thanksgiving shows exactly why the indigenous communities of South Dakota didn't want oil pipelines on their lands.

"Just a reminder last year on Thanksgiving that Natives were being tortured with dogs, illegal scare tactics, being run over by angry white [people] all to protect our water," the tweet reads. "And this year on Thanksgiving they are now cleaning up 200,000 gallon oil spill on a South Dakota reservation."

The tweet, published on Nov. 16 by user @lilnativeboy, has amassed over 100,000 likes and tens of thousands of retweets because of its powerful — and entirely sobering — message.


The tweet is referencing 2016 protests on the Standing Rock Sioux reservation that turned violent.

Last fall, indigenous demonstrators — or self-identified "water protectors" — rallied to protect the local land and water from construction on the 1,172-mile-long Dakota Access Pipeline. In November that year, when officials became agitated with their ongoing presence, the demonstrators were sprayed with water and tear gas in freezing cold weather. That same fall, security dogs reportedly bit protesters on multiple occasions.

Between then and now, a lot has changed; most notably, an oil-friendly Trump administration took the reins in Washington, approving the final pipeline construction permit needed in February 2017.

Trump has opened the floodgates (so to speak) on a number of oil infrastructure projects; among them is the also controversial Keystone Pipeline, which is disrupting much of the same upper Midwest region as the Dakota Access.

One year later and with Thanksgiving upon us, demonstrators' fears and predictions have come true as the viral tweet alludes to.

Over 200,000 gallons of oil has leaked in South Dakota, Keystone pipeline creator TransCanada confirmed on Nov. 17. The leak, the largest in the state to date, follows another leak in April from the Dakota Access Pipeline that tainted the land with nearly 17,000 gallons.

"It is a below-ground pipeline, but some oil has surfaced above ground to the grass," Walsh said of the most recent environmental setback. "It will be a few days until they can excavate and get in borings to see if there is groundwater contamination."

A demonstrator protests Trump's executive order fast-tracking the Keystone XL and Dakota Access oil pipelines in Los Angeles. Photo by Mark Ralston/AFP/Getty Images.

David Flute, Sisseton Wahpeton Oyate tribal chairman, said his community is "keeping a watchful eye and an open ear" in the wake of the leak, according to the CBC. There's a real possibility the spill could pollute the area's aquifer and waterways. "The concern is at a high level, but there is really nothing we can do," Flute said.

But there is something you can do now.

TransCanada has proposed an extension of its Keystone pipeline system into neighboring Nebraska — a decision being weighed now by the Nebraska Public Service Commission. A vote to accept or deny TransCanada's proposal is set for Monday, Nov. 20.

Many environmental and activist groups are rallying support in hopes of keeping the pipeline out of the Cornhusker State. MoveOn, for instance, is encouraging supporters to sign a petition to say "no" to the project.

"If this spill had happened along the proposed route in Nebraska, it would be absolutely devastating," Brian Jorde, a lawyer representing Nebraska landowners opposed to Keystone XL, told Reuters. "Their proposed route is within a mile of thousands of water wells."

Images courtesy of John Scully, Walden University, Ingrid Scully
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Since March of 2020, over 29 million Americans have been diagnosed with COVID-19, according to the CDC. Over 540,000 have died in the United States as this unprecedented pandemic has swept the globe. And yet, by the end of 2020, it looked like science was winning: vaccines had been developed.

In celebration of the power of science we spoke to three people: an individual, a medical provider, and a vaccine scientist about how vaccines have impacted them throughout their lives. Here are their answers:

John Scully, 79, resident of Florida

Photo courtesy of John Scully

When John Scully was born, America was in the midst of an epidemic: tens of thousands of children in the United States were falling ill with paralytic poliomyelitis — otherwise known as polio, a disease that attacks the central nervous system and often leaves its victims partially or fully paralyzed.

"As kids, we were all afraid of getting polio," he says, "because if you got polio, you could end up in the dreaded iron lung and we were all terrified of those." Iron lungs were respirators that enclosed most of a person's body; people with severe cases often would end up in these respirators as they fought for their lives.

John remembers going to see matinee showings of cowboy movies on Saturdays and, before the movie, shorts would run. "Usually they showed the news," he says, "but I just remember seeing this one clip warning us about polio and it just showed all these kids in iron lungs." If kids survived the iron lung, they'd often come back to school on crutches, in leg braces, or in wheelchairs.

"We all tried to be really careful in the summer — or, as we called it back then, 'polio season,''" John says. This was because every year around Memorial Day, major outbreaks would begin to emerge and they'd spike sometime around August. People weren't really sure how the disease spread at the time, but many believed it traveled through the water. There was no cure — and every child was susceptible to getting sick with it.

"We couldn't swim in hot weather," he remembers, "and the municipal outdoor pool would close down in August."

Then, in 1954 clinical trials began for Dr. Jonas Salk's vaccine against polio and within a year, his vaccine was announced safe. "I got that vaccine at school," John says. Within two years, U.S. polio cases had dropped 85-95 percent — even before a second vaccine was developed by Dr. Albert Sabin in the 1960s. "I remember how much better things got after the vaccines came out. They changed everything," John says.

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We know that mammals feed their young with milk from their own bodies, and we know that whales are mammals. But the logistics of how some whales make breastfeeding happen has been a bit of a mystery for scientists. Such has been the case with sperm whales.

Sperm whales are uniquely shaped, with humongous, block-shaped heads that house the largest brains in the animal world. Like other cetaceans, sperm whale babies rely on their mother's milk for sustenance in their first year or two. And also like other cetaceans, a sperm whale mama's nipple is inverted—it doesn't stick out from her body like many mammals, but rather is hidden inside a mammary slit.

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Images courtesy of John Scully, Walden University, Ingrid Scully
True

Since March of 2020, over 29 million Americans have been diagnosed with COVID-19, according to the CDC. Over 540,000 have died in the United States as this unprecedented pandemic has swept the globe. And yet, by the end of 2020, it looked like science was winning: vaccines had been developed.

In celebration of the power of science we spoke to three people: an individual, a medical provider, and a vaccine scientist about how vaccines have impacted them throughout their lives. Here are their answers:

John Scully, 79, resident of Florida

Photo courtesy of John Scully

When John Scully was born, America was in the midst of an epidemic: tens of thousands of children in the United States were falling ill with paralytic poliomyelitis — otherwise known as polio, a disease that attacks the central nervous system and often leaves its victims partially or fully paralyzed.

"As kids, we were all afraid of getting polio," he says, "because if you got polio, you could end up in the dreaded iron lung and we were all terrified of those." Iron lungs were respirators that enclosed most of a person's body; people with severe cases often would end up in these respirators as they fought for their lives.

John remembers going to see matinee showings of cowboy movies on Saturdays and, before the movie, shorts would run. "Usually they showed the news," he says, "but I just remember seeing this one clip warning us about polio and it just showed all these kids in iron lungs." If kids survived the iron lung, they'd often come back to school on crutches, in leg braces, or in wheelchairs.

"We all tried to be really careful in the summer — or, as we called it back then, 'polio season,''" John says. This was because every year around Memorial Day, major outbreaks would begin to emerge and they'd spike sometime around August. People weren't really sure how the disease spread at the time, but many believed it traveled through the water. There was no cure — and every child was susceptible to getting sick with it.

"We couldn't swim in hot weather," he remembers, "and the municipal outdoor pool would close down in August."

Then, in 1954 clinical trials began for Dr. Jonas Salk's vaccine against polio and within a year, his vaccine was announced safe. "I got that vaccine at school," John says. Within two years, U.S. polio cases had dropped 85-95 percent — even before a second vaccine was developed by Dr. Albert Sabin in the 1960s. "I remember how much better things got after the vaccines came out. They changed everything," John says.

Keep Reading Show less