Extractive industries involve the removal of non-renewable raw materials such as oil, gas, metals, and minerals from the earth. Although communities can benefit from such industries by using these natural resources for sustainable development, their extraction has also “triggered violent conflicts, degraded the environment, worsened gender and other inequalities, displaced communities, and undermined democratic governance,” according to the UN Development Program.
According to the US Department of State “these extractive activities often occur in rural areas with minimal infrastructure and limited rule of law, leading to the development of makeshift communities, such as mining boom towns that are vulnerable to crime.”
Labor trafficking in these industries has been documented and awareness has grown in recent years. However, the link between these industries and sex trafficking has not been well documented or investigated, and is becoming a concern for local governments and advocates alike.
In the US oil industry, individuals are sometimes recruited with false promises of work opportunities, but instead are exploited in the commercial sex trade. Service providers in areas near camps surrounding large-scale oil extraction facilities, such as the Bakken oil fields in North Dakota, have reported that sex traffickers have exploited women in the area, including Native American women. And today, the Canadian energy company Enbridge Inc. is extracting on northern Minnesota reservations and there are increasing stories about minors and women being sold for sex in the community.
In “Extractive Industries and Sex Trafficking of Native Women and Youth,” we will hear from experts and advocates who are organizing against extraction efforts. These advocates will ex-plain how and why these activities do not only harm the environment but how Native people are paying a price.