Man Camps: An Oil Industry Business that Affects Native American Women

Who owns the land controls who can prosecute crimes committed on the land, as per the law in the United States. The United States federal government holds most Native American land in trust, so even on Native American land, oil extraction companies can extract resources with permission from the United States government (Natural Resources Revenue Data). These resource extraction projects lead to man camps, housing areas provided to the people who work at the extraction project, usually men, and almost always non-Native. However, many Native American women are murdered yearly or go missing at these man camps (Mitchell 2022). Since the beginning of these camps, the rate of missing and murdered indigenous women (MMIW) has increased by 75% (Stern 2021). 

Figure 1. Man Camps near resource extraction projects in North Dakota (Wikipedia 2022)

Native American women close to these camps live under the terror of being the next victim. Women are easy prey, many of whom have gone missing or murdered at rates higher than their non-Native American counterparts since the oil boom (Stern 2021). Where is the law that supports these Native American women? The court states that Native Nations cannot punish or prosecute non-Native Americans (Mitchell 2022), and the US government cannot prosecute Native Americans (Liptak 2022). However, The United States has ignored the law and has prosecuted native Americans anyway, while tribal police departments cannot do anything to protect Native women (Mitchell 2022). For example, Nathan Sanchez, from the Fort Berthold reservation, was working when a girl with her wet jeans emerged. He asked her what had happened, and she told him that she had been raped. He noticed she was a non-Native American and asked her immediately if the raper was Native American. She said yes, but after she got to the police station, she confessed that she had been living on the reservation. The night before Nathan found her; she said an oil worker offered her some drinks and took her to his camper, where he committed the act. Nathan could not do anything because she confessed that the man was not Indian (Crane-Murdoch 2013). Even though this girl was white, she was raped because she lived on the reservations. Nathan wanted to help her, but he could not do anything else to help her only because the rapist was non-Native American.

Figure 2. The Tiny House Warriors hold up a red dress — a symbol in remembrance of MMIW (Grable 2021).

What is left for these victims is to find comfort in themselves and their community. Most of these women do not get any mental health assistance, and the victims’ families are left alone with their trauma (Mitchell 2022). Native Americans have the highest rate of suicide (Suicide resource prevention center 2020). No wonder most of these girls are left alone confronting these traumas because not even their tribal police can do anything to help them. Also, because of these oil projects all around Native American communities, these people are raised in violence, homelessness, poverty, and depression, which puts women and children at risk of trafficking (Stern 2021). Oil industries expose Native Americans to these predators, while the government does not take any accountability for solving these problems.


“Native American Lands | Ownership and Governance.” Natural Resources Revenue Data,

Mitchell, Kimberly N. “MAN Camps, Oil Pipelines, and MMIW: How United States v. Cooley Is a False Victory for Indigenous Tribes.” Vermont Journal of Environmental Law, 2022.

Stern, Julia. “Pipeline of Violence: The Oil Industry and Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women: Immigration and Human Rights Law Review.” Immigration and Human Rights Law Review | The Blog, May 24, 2022.

Wikipedia. 2022. “Man camp.” Wikimedia Foundation. Last modified November 21, 2022.

Liptak, Adam. “Supreme Court Narrows Ruling for Tribes in Oklahoma.” The New York Times. The New York Times, June 29, 2022.,in%20tribal%20or%20federal%20courts.

Crane-Murdoch, Sierra. “On Indian Land, Criminals Can Get Away with Almost Anything.” The Atlantic. Atlantic Media Company, February 27, 2013.

Grable, Kaitlin. “Big Oil Is Fueling the Crisis of Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women.” Greenpeace USA, May 5, 2021.

“Racial and Ethnic Disparities.” Racial and Ethnic Disparities | Suicide Prevention Resource Center, 2020.,adults%20and%20then%20White%20adults.

Further reading: 

Simons, Jane. “As Native American Women Go Missing and Are Murdered, Who Is Keeping Track?” Southwest Michigan’s Second Wave, August 18, 2021.

Bartley, Felicia, and Isleta Pueblo . “MMIW.” Native Womens Wilderness. Accessed December 3, 2022.


After more than ten decades, Yale decides to repatriate artifacts from Machu Picchu to Peru

When thinking about archaeology, we immediately think about Indiana Jones trying to find a gold artifact and selling it for money. However, TV is often misleading, and archaeology is more than finding and selling precious artifacts. Archaeology is the study of past people through their material remains, and people alive can have a relationship with the dead through archaeology. 

Those people had a past, and most of them believed that there was a reason why bodies had to be buried. For example, the dead were used as a symbol of power in religion in the middle age. Digging up a body without knowing why it was buried is unethical (Sayer 2010, 14). When is it ethical to dig up or own the past? Yale University held crates found at Machu Picchu. Peru claimed their property, and Yale University decided to return some pieces after World War I but said they could keep some under the laws of the day. (Orson, 2011) 

The ethical dilemma comes from whether those artifacts belong to Yale or not. In the past, archaeologists would disrespect people and artifacts and put them in a museum. Even though the local community already knew about the site (Swanson 2009, 471), Yale University was focused on finding more artifacts and doing more research because, by that time, they were in the process of becoming a research university (Swanson 2009, 473). They got the Peruvian government’s approval and help, and after agreeing that the artifacts found would be the property of the Peruvian government, the law was not enforced. In response, Peruvians modified an 1893 law that states that exporting any Inca monument is prohibited because they are national property. After that, Yale could only export a few artifacts, but remains and artifacts are still taken (Swanson 2009, 474). Among all the antiques that Yale took, there were human bones, jewelry, ceramics, and tools. Undoubtedly, they did not care about the Peruvians’ rights. Sometimes it is about decency because it does not sound good to disturb the resting place of a person to satisfy inquisitiveness or gain power.

Figure 1. A small aryballos — a pottery form generally used to carry oils or perfumes — is one of the artifacts Yale University is returning to Peru. (Orson 2011)

Yale University did not ask the community if they were okay with the artifacts being presented in their museum. In the first place, they did not have permission from Peru’s government to take those artifacts to the U.S. Peru’s government tried to claim their property. However, Yale University told them that the University could not do that because its prestige would be enhanced (Swanson 2009, 476). However, their prestige ended when Peru publicly warned Yale that they would charge them with criminal charges if the artifacts were not returned (Alderman 2014, 2). The public shamed Yale University since many influencers and Peruvians started to share the case on the internet (Alderman 2014, 2). Yale University agreed to return the artifacts by the end of 2012, and Peru is okay with Yale University. (Orson 2011) 

Figure 2. Peruvians held a demonstration in Lima demanding that Yale return the artifacts Bingham took (Orson 2011)


  1. Artifacts to Peru.” NPR. NPR, December 18, 2011. 
  2. Swanson, Stephanie. “Repatriating Cultural Property: The Dispute between Yale and Peru over the Treasures of Machu Picchu,” San Diego International Law Journal 10, no. 2 (2009): 469-494 
  3. Alderman, Kimberly. “Yale’s Repatriation of the Machu Picchu Artifacts to Peru.” SSRN, February 18, 2014. 


Further readings

  1. Strauss, Mark. “When Is It Okay to Dig up the Dead?” Adventure. National Geographic, May 3, 2021. 
  2. Alderman, Kimberly. “Yale Agrees to Return Machu Picchu Artifacts to Peru: Ethics-Based Repatriation Efforts Gain Steam.” SSRN, January 4, 2011.