Indigenous Peoples and Human Rights

October 16, 2018

'Opposing the Concentrated Animal Feeding Operations at Devil's Lake' by Lisa DeVille

Photo Lisa DeVille
'Opposing the Concentrated Animal Feeding Operations at Devil's Lake' 

By:  Lisa DeVille, Mandan, Hidatsa and Arikara
Mandaree, North Dakota
Censored News

On October 12, 2018 I wrote this public comment on Concentrated Animal Feeding Operations (CAFO) proposed in the Devils Lake Region to the North Dakota Department of Health. 

My name is Lisa DeVille.  I am an enrolled member of the Mandan, Hidatsa, and Arikara Nation but my direct lineage is Mandan and Hidatsa.  I have lived my whole life with my family in Mandaree, North Dakota, on Fort Berthold Reservation.  I am writing to oppose the Concentrated Animal Feeding Operation that's sited near Devils Lake.  The origins of my people came from Devils Lake region.  It is a rich history of my people who inhabited the area before settler times.  Our roots are from there and the spirits of our ancestors are tied to that sacred land.

“We Mandan people call ourselves "the People of the first Man." The Hidatsa were known as Minnetaree, or Gros Ventre. Hidatsa was formerly the name of a village occupied by these tribes, which has been said to mean "willows." The name Minnetaree, spelled in various ways, means "to cross the water."

“One theory is the Mandan moved from the area of southern Minnesota and northern Iowa to the plains in South Dakota about 900 A.D., and slowly migrated north along the Missouri River to North Dakota about 1000 A.D. The Hidatsa moved from central Minnesota to the eastern part of North Dakota near Devils Lake, and moved to join the Mandan at the Missouri River about 1600 A.D. The Mandan and Hidatsa believe they were, created in this area and have always lived here.”

“The Awaxawi (meaning "Village on the Hill") tell of living in the earth and climbing to the surface on a vine. They met the Hidatsa-proper near Devils Lake in eastern North Dakota and Awatixa along the Missouri River. The Hidatsa-proper (meaning "People of the Willows") also lived within the earth and came to the surface near Devils Lake in North Dakota. Hidatsa warriors met corn growers along the Missouri River and decided to move there. When they arrived, the Mandan asked them to move north up the river but not so far as to become enemies.”   National Park Service, Knife River Indian Villages

North Dakota prides itself on the rich history of the first inhabitants of this territory, yet we are constantly accosted by large industries that seek to destroy the finite resources that we have left. North Dakotans, like tribal citizens feel that we are stewards of the earth and that we need to care for it so that our future generations will have a viable future.

There are negative impacts from factory farms to local health, quality of life, property values and the air, land and water that is located in and around the place where our people originated.

Factory farm operators make significant short term profits because they externalize their production costs onto the nearby communities.  Local residents end up paying for damaged roads due to heavy semi-trucks, manure spill clean ups, decreased land fertility, fish kills, and increased healthcare cost. It is foolish to believe that a thousand hog farm will not have an impact on the nearby lake and wetlands. Runoff goes downhill and will eventually end up in the lake.

Typical pollutants found in air surrounding CAFOS:
Hydrogen Sulfide
Particulate Matter

North Dakota should take note from Iowa and see what our water quality will be like after a year of mass producing animals.


SENAA Founder said...

What exactly do you mean by Concentrated Animal Feeding Operations (CAFO), and how does it adversely affect wildlife and other resources in the Devil's Lake area?

Is it concentrated feeding of livestock, or of wild animals?

If you are referring to the "concentrated" feeding of livestock, what is it about the feeding process that endangers the environment?

Is it the feeding process that is the danger, or is the danger in the animal manure that is washed into the waterways by the rains; or is it both?

I want to understand what it is exactly about the "concentrated" feeding of animals that is detrimental.

The article gave some interesting insights into the history of the Indigenous Peoples (Mandan, Hidatsa, and Arikara Nations), but very little information about what "concentrated feeding" means or how it negatively impacts the environment, except for the runoff from the ranches getting into the waterways and damaging water and land. I guess it is implied that the runoff carries animal waste (manure and urine) into the waterways and across the land; but it fails to make the connection with "concentrated Feeding" of animals. It suggests that the "concentrated feeding" refers to the feeding of livestock, but doesn't say so in so many words.

Please clarify what "concentrated feeding" means and what it is about the feeding of the animals that harms the environment. It's hard to support a cause when one doesn't know for sure what the cause is or what it is about it that is harmful to the environment.

I don't mean to sound argumentative. I'm just trying to understand the situation so I can make an intelligent, informed decision about how to present it to others in order to gain support for your situation.

Al Swilling
SENAA International

SENAA Founder said...

Please disregard my previous comment. I "Googled" it. Living in an area where conventional farming and conventional livestock growing is practiced. I was unfamiliar with the term "Concentrated Animal Feeding Operation" and what that term included.

For clarification, for those who do not know what "Concentrated Animal Feeding Operation (CAFO) is, I suggest that the following information should be included.

A Concentrated Animal Feeding Operation (CAFO), as defined by the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) is an animal feeding operation (AFO)—a farm in which animals are raised in confinement—that has over 1000 "animal units" confined for over 45 days a year. An animal unit is an animal equivalent of 1000 pounds live weight. A thousand animal units equates to 1000 head of beef cattle, 700 dairy cows, 2500 swine weighing more than 55 lbs, 125 thousand broiler chickens, or 82 thousand laying hens or pullets.[1]

A CAFO is also an animal feeding operation of any size that discharges its waste into a waterway. For the most part, there are regulations that restrict how much can be distributed and for what the quality of the materials has to be.[1] As of 2016 there were around 212,000 AFOs in the United States,[2]:1.2 19,496 of which were CAFOS.[3][a]

Livestock production has become increasingly dominated by CAFOs in the United States and other parts of the world.[4] Most poultry was raised in CAFOs starting in the 1950s, and most cattle and pigs by the 1970s and 1980s.[5] By the mid-2000s CAFOs dominated livestock and poultry production in the United States, and the scope of their market share is steadily increasing. In 1966, it took one million farms to house 57 million pigs; by the year 2001, it took only 80,000 farms to house the same number.[6][7]

SENAA Founder said...

Apologies for not including the reference in my previous comment and citation. The definition for "CAFO" that I posted was from Wikipedia:

This is my last comment. I promise.

Al Swilling
SENAA International