Mariah Gladstone, 19, of the Blackfeet Nation, in New York City's Columbus Circle. Gladstone, a sophomore, is studying earth and environmental engineering at Columbia University. (Photo by Simon Moya-Smith)

Blackfeet Student Fights Fracking by Studying Alternative Energy Solutions

Simon Moya-Smith
12/28/12

 

She boxes. She beads. She reads (environmental engineering textbooks.) Her name: Mariah Gladstone.

Gladstone, 19, is a sophomore at Columbia University’s School of Engineering and Applied Sciences in New York City. Yet, when she’s not fulfilling the requirements for her earth and environmental engineering major, Gladstone will lace up her knuckles in her tattered, red Everlast hand straps and take to the punching bag.

On other less physically demanding evenings, Gladstone sits in her dorm room, which overlooks the Hudson River, and beads her custom-made Native American jewelry. Gladstone will then sell those earrings at Native American events around New York City as well as in her Etsy store.

Born and raised on the Blackfeet Reservation located in northwestern Montana, Gladstone graduated in three years from Glacier High School in Kalispell, Montana in 2011. By 17, she was already an Ivy League student.

Gladstone, who’s also of Scottish, Irish and German heritage, said she applied solely to Columbia University because of its proactive approach to environmental issues.

“Their environmental engineering program focuses on proactive energy technologies,” she said. “And that’s what I want to get into.”

Fracking (or hydraulic fracturing) is an issue on the Blackfeet Reservation, Gladstone said. With her degree from Columbia, she hopes to stave, if not completely abolish, the practice of fracking not only on the Blackfeet Reservation, but all reservations.

“Right now they’re drilling hundreds of exploratory wells [on the Blackfeet rez],” she said. “You can’t shut down something like that without having an alternative solution.”

And the only way to stop fracking, she said, is with cost-efficient, earth-friendly options.

“People need energy, but you need a clean alternative option,” she added. “If [fracking] continues, it’s going to mess up the water … forever.”

A fancy shawl and traditional dancer, Gladstone is also fluent in Native American Sign Language and demonstrates her unique ability to tourists back on the rez and, lately, to New York City schoolchildren.

“Native American Sign Language is the oldest universal sign language used, which was used across two-thirds of the American continent prior to Columbus’s arrival,” she said.

To budding Native American students, Gladstone encourages embracing all of your talents and affections.

“You don’t have to choose between your passions—do everything,” she said.

Scheduled to graduate in 2015, Gladstone says upon graduation she hopes to some day work for a company that specializes in alternative energy development.

“It would be nice to get some inter-reservation (alternative energy) system to invest in the reservation and become energy independent,” she said. “It’s a nice idea.”

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Anonymous's picture
Anonymous
Submitted by Anonymous on
The whackadoodle environuts just repeat the usual litany of talking points. Destroys health, property values, communities, the sky is falling, fracking will push your grandma off a cliff!!!! Please people just get a grip already. Drilling for oil and gas has been going on in my corner of Pennsylvania as well as worldwide since Drake hit oil in Titusville in 1859. Fracking is just another drilling technology. The truth is these anti-frackers are really anti-American. Not only is natural gas a much cleaner fuel than coal, diesel or gasoline, it is used to make plastics, fertilizers, textiles, medicines, paints, – in fact everything you touch all day long has natural gas byproducts. Your car, your cellphone, your computer, your shoes, aspirin, etc. The shale gas boom means high paying jobs, tax revenues, royalties for farmers, cheap energy, national security, energy independence and yes even a reduction in CO2 emissions. It is a win-win-win for us all and should encouraged. And just a little side note here, ETHANOL from corn is the worst idea ever! Not only does it increase food costs exponentially, it INCREASES CO2 emissions. Obviously the environuts skipped class to smoke some dope the day their high school science teacher covered the fermentation process. CO2 is emitted in huge amounts when making ethanol, not to mention the fuels used to grow, transport and cook the corn added to the CO2 when the ethanol is burned. And that is not to mention the 10% to 20% reduction in fuel economy when burning ethanol/gasoline blends. When you do the math and add it all up it is ridiculous to the extreme how much more CO2 is generated from the “green”, “sustainable” ethanol boondoggle. The environuts are the ultimate hypocrits when it comes to these kinds of issues because they want to shut down all the “dirty”, “greedy” industrial operations, but are the first to complain when the lights don’t come on or gas prices increase. I will listen to them when they go completely “off grid”, no electricity, no car, no cell phone, nothing. Then they can preach to the rest of us how we are supposedly killing the planet.

Anonymous's picture
Anonymous
Submitted by Anonymous on
The whackadoodle environuts just repeat the usual litany of talking points. Destroys health, property values, communities, the sky is falling, fracking will push your grandma off a cliff!!!! Please people just get a grip already. Drilling for oil and gas has been going on in my corner of Pennsylvania as well as worldwide since Drake hit oil in Titusville in 1859. Fracking is just another drilling technology. The truth is these anti-frackers are really anti-American. Not only is natural gas a much cleaner fuel than coal, diesel or gasoline, it is used to make plastics, fertilizers, textiles, medicines, paints, – in fact everything you touch all day long has natural gas byproducts. Your car, your cellphone, your computer, your shoes, aspirin, etc. The shale gas boom means high paying jobs, tax revenues, royalties for farmers, cheap energy, national security, energy independence and yes even a reduction in CO2 emissions. It is a win-win-win for us all and should encouraged. And just a little side note here, ETHANOL from corn is the worst idea ever! Not only does it increase food costs exponentially, it INCREASES CO2 emissions. Obviously the environuts skipped class to smoke some dope the day their high school science teacher covered the fermentation process. CO2 is emitted in huge amounts when making ethanol, not to mention the fuels used to grow, transport and cook the corn added to the CO2 when the ethanol is burned. And that is not to mention the 10% to 20% reduction in fuel economy when burning ethanol/gasoline blends. When you do the math and add it all up it is ridiculous to the extreme how much more CO2 is generated from the “green”, “sustainable” ethanol boondoggle. The environuts are the ultimate hypocrits when it comes to these kinds of issues because they want to shut down all the “dirty”, “greedy” industrial operations, but are the first to complain when the lights don’t come on or gas prices increase. I will listen to them when they go completely “off grid”, no electricity, no car, no cell phone, nothing. Then they can preach to the rest of us how we are supposedly killing the planet.

Anonymous's picture
Anonymous
Submitted by Anonymous on
The thing we Natives need to realize along with the rest of American society is to use the various forms of alternative energy that is and can be regional. There are regions like the southwest, where solar is the obvious answer, the Great Plains, windpower,; each region has there own answer, the same with our, "Reservations" lands. We have the potential to be energy self sufficient while remembering that we are caretakers on Mother Earth, there are pathways friendly to the environment.

Anonymous's picture
Anonymous
Submitted by Anonymous on
GREAT JOB YOU ARE DOIN MORE POWER TOO YOU ON REACHING YOU GRADUATION. IT WOULD BE NICE TO SEE SOME OF YOUR JEWLERY.,,,,WELL ANYWAY'S FROM ONE 1ST~NATION TOO ANOTHER MORE POWER TOO YOU ON REACHING YOUR GOAL'S ~~~~FROM ALEX JOE~~~~VACOUVER ISLAND~~~~BRITISH COLUMBIA~~~~CANADA

Anonymous's picture
Anonymous
Submitted by Anonymous on
Great, I am glad we have a Blackfeet examining alternatives to oil and gas development. I have heard some bad things about fracking.

Anonymous's picture
Anonymous
Submitted by Anonymous on
I welcome her to get in touch with me because I am interested in a particular green energy project that could be done on a wide spread national scale. It would put lots of people to work, cut down hugely on carbon footprints and more, www.Facebook.com/federally-ban-fracking Hope to hear from her. Scott Noren DDS Ithaca, NY

Anonymous's picture
Anonymous
Submitted by Anonymous on
About inter-reservation alternative energy: don't know how workable this option is, but there are grants for rural areas and reservations for development of alternative energy on the USDA website under grants. The information may be outdated, but it's a place to start. M. E. Frye-Nelson

Anonymous's picture
Anonymous
Submitted by Anonymous on
Mariah, I have seen first hand the effects of high volume slickwater hydraulic fracturing on human health in southwest Pennsylvania and my home state of West Virginia. Whole families with deep, persistent coughs, nose bleeds, loss of memory and sense of smell. I personally know a 4 year old boy who doubles over with pain for days on end due to exposure from emissions from the 5 wells near his home. His mother, father, and older brother are all very sick. I know a man who lives within an eighth of a mile of a cryo-separation facility (part of the shale gas infrastructure) who had to seal his windows shut and install a makeshift filtration system for his home to avoid the toxic emissions from that plant. Last week he was diagnosed with brain, liver and lung cancer. I am helping him to relocate to an area of PA that has (for now) better air quality. I am a professor of civil and environmental engineering at a private research institute in upstate New York. I worked for the US Department of Energy at the Hanford Nuclear Reservation in Richland, WA for over 15 years. In my professional opinion, you are doing exactly the right thing. Best wishes for your academic and professional pursuits. If you are considering an advanced degree in alternative energy research, please consider Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute. It would be an honor to have you in my lab.

Anonymous's picture
Anonymous
Submitted by Anonymous on
The Blackfeet are miles ahead of the Oand G explorations companies. They have signed an exclusive contract with Ecosphere Technologies that has a tried and true solution to flowback at the well site. It cleans and recycles the water that is used in the frack process. Essentially cleaned and filtered thru ozonix at a rate much faster than the the fracker can pump. Been using it in Arkansas(the natural state) for years with Southwestern Energy and Newfield Exploration They just signed a contract with Hydrozonix and is also being used in the Marcellus Shale as well as Eagle Ford. So yes it CAN be done and done in an environmentally safe manner

Anonymous's picture
Anonymous
Submitted by Anonymous on
Admirable woman. I'd be very proud to know her and so hope she's successful in her endeavor. She's well needed

Cidneia's picture
Cidneia
Submitted by Cidneia on
Well Robert, what our human and civil rights orzgoiaatinn is attempting to do here on the Standing Rock Sioux Reservation is to get a congressional investigation that will investigate (where do I start now), first on the priority list would be all programs contracted under 638 due to the fact that the leadership thought they could do a better job then their BIA agencies, however, the opposite is true. Since the Indian Preference decision Agency Superintendents have been less then productive due to whom they know in the hierarchy and the buddy system. Most have absolutely NO administrative knowledge/experience so they rule as tyrants and same for tribal leadership only add nepotism and popular vote to their agendas. Federal government to sue Oglala for $482 plus is a prime example. The Oglalas and Standing Rock Sioux have something NO other Nation has or will ever have Victory over the U.S. military at the Little Big Horn and carving of Crazy Horse in the sacred Black Hills, and that itself will light the fires of the human spirit in all Tribes in the near future. Just wait and see. How many million visit Crazy Horse? The Oglalas are known the world over! I for one greatly admire the Oglalas even now. NO ONE will every take away their one-and-only victory!! I salute the entire tribal MEMBERSHIP. God Bless the Oglala Nation!
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