It’s nothing really new ― the federal government has decided that the economic interests of a few are worth more than the treaties made with Native Americans.
To heck with the promises, pledges, and treaties when it comes to building an oil pipeline ― fracking, I might add ― that runs through Native American land, threatening their water supply, ancient Native monuments and ancestral burial grounds.
But this time the Native Americans just ain’t having it. And they’re facing down private security guards using pepper spray and vicious attack dogs to prove it.
Because many of them believe the construction of the pipeline was foretold in an old Native American prophecy, and allowing “the black snake” to travel their land could very well mean the beginning of the end of mankind.
Which is why thousands of Native Americans have come from all over the country — some in cars, some on horseback,some even on foot — to stand with, and in support, of the Standing Rock Sioux. Perhaps the largest such gathering in history.
Yep, it’s that important.
Not that you’d know it by the amount of national media coverage being given to one of the largest Native American protests in modern history.
Go ahead and google CNN, the New York Times, the Washington Post and see how much ink space they’ve devoted to what should be a major story.
Although MSNBC’s Lawrence O’Donnell did make mention of the situation on his show back in August.
The situation became a situation when Dakota Access LLC proposed to build a 1,172-mile pipeline to connect oil fields in North Dakota across South Dakota and Iowa to other pipelines in Illinois, according to article written by the National Lawyers Guild.
A pipeline that would go right through the Native American ancestral lands ― including burial grounds and sacred monuments ― and have a devastating impact on the environment and their main source of fresh water.
The move was sanctioned by the federal government; in violation of the Fort Laramie Treaty ratified in 1869 promising no government infringement on the land without consultation with the Native American residents on that territory.
The Standing Rock Sioux tribe filed an injunction in court, last month, to try and stop the development and a court date has been set, but the tribe decided to go ahead and start a peaceful occupation of the of the land in the meantime.
They wanted to have time, and opportunity, to come together in prayer and to document some of the evidence that the land held artifacts and monuments of traditional and spiritual significance.
When I heard about that last week I thought: Who can blame them? I wouldn’t put it pass the government or the company to start sneaking around and getting started in the meantime.
And guess what? On Saturday – September 3 – some of the supporters went to one of the burial sites included in the development plan to plant tribal flags only to be flabbergasted at the sight of bulldozers working over the holiday weekend!
A friend of mine, Quese IMC, the young spiritual warrior featured in the public service announcements for the Native American Right Fund, was there.
He said one of the protesters walked through the fence, and while the bulldozers were still digging ― destroying some of the evidence they were trying to document ― the woman, Yonasda Lonewolf, calmly asked the construction workers whose land they were on, and what they were doing.
When the bulldozers came too close to Lonewolf, Quese IMC ― who is from the Pawnee Nation ― jumped in front of them to protect her. A guy in a hard hat came up from behind him and knocked him to the ground. And then . . . those damn private security guards.
“They were in trucks, peeling through the crowd, and then they rolled down the windows and started pepper spraying people,” Quese IMC told me over the telephone this morning.
He said he also saw them turning dogs loose into the crowds and watched as a pit bull chased protesters, snapping at and biting them indiscriminately.
Then an older Native American moved in front of the dog and started talking to him in Native tongue. The dog then turned around, Quese said, and bit his handler.
“I was right there, and I watched it,” Quese said, adding that he was not surprised. “We have connection to spirituality and so do dogs. And we know what was happening wasn’t their fault.”
Quese IMC is just one of thousands of Native Americans, young and old, who’ve traveled to North Dakota to stand with the Standing Rock Tribe of the Sioux Nation to protect ancestral lands.
Some say this is the largest gathering of Native Americans ― ever!
And that, according to another friend of mine, Abby Rojas ― is because of Lakota prophecy about a black snake, that many Native Americans see as the pipeline.
“It’s said that one day this black snake would pass through the land during the 7th generation, and it would either uprise our people, or destroy them,” Rojas explained to me ― adding that by uprise she means that the sometimes fragmented Native American population would unite in order to save the land. And, she went on to tell me, it wouldn’t only the Native America nations that would be destroyed — the black snake would ultimately threaten the world.
When you look at it that way, the Native Americans who are peacefully amassing at Standing Rock could be considered more protectors than protesters.
Rojas went on to tell me that according to the Lakota calendar, the 7th generation is now — and it is obligation of those living in the time of the 7th generation to fulfill their destiny.
“So, for our people, this is very important,” Rojas said, adding that while it is a Lakota prophecy, it’s one that is accepted by many other Native American nations.
But even if you were to disregard the prophecy, both Quese and Rojas stress the spiritual connection that Native Americans have to both land and water is one that should not be ignored. A connection that they can’t understand couldn’t be respected, if not accepted, by the federal government.
“We’re a very spiritual people, and were fighting for this land and this water because it has spirit. We’re fighting corporate greed which has no spirit. It feeds off of money and destruction,” Quese IMC says.
Oh! But wait, here’s the kicker. This wasn’t the original route proposed for the pipeline, according to Dave Archambault II, in an interview with Indian Country Today Media.com.
No, no, no! It was originally supposed to go through land not owned by the Sioux, according to Archambault, who is the chairman of the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe. That proposal was vetoed, he said, out of concern for that community’s safe drinking water.
“You will hear people say that this project bolsters national security because it decreases our reliance on foreign oil. All of that is good, as long as they don’t reap these benefits at our cost.”
“We complain, too, because we’re concerned for our future generations and their drinking water,” Archambault said in the ICMT interview. But, he added, “... they don’t listen.”
They don’t listen because they don’t care.
And, it seems, neither do major media outlets who’ve devoted no time to let the American people know what’s going on at Standing Rock.
Thank God, though for the indie press. The militant press. The press which too many people pay no attention.
Democracy Now posted a video, which shows Saturday’s events ― including the bulldozers digging up land where so many traditional native antiquities are buried.
And, yeah... if you thought Quese IMC was lying, the video also shows the protesters being peppered sprayed and being chased by dogs.
Dogs attacking the protesters!
The same kind of weapon they hustled out during the Civil Rights protests back in in the fifties and sixties.
Can water hoses be far behind?
Oh, well, this is the new millennium. I guess that’s why they used pepper spray instead.
The thing is, I jest, but this is not a situation to be taken lightly ― and the Native Americans aren’t. Quese IMC says the protesters are building lodging to give them better shelter during the upcoming colder weather.
And Rojas told me that they’ve already set up a school so that children can continue their education while remaining on the grounds.
Remember, there’s more than a thousand Native Americans involved; unifying for a cause that they believe in.
Protecting land, water, and human lives.
Not just theirs... but also ours. Because believe me, if that 1,711-mile-long pipeline bursts, it’s not just their main water source and ecosystem which will be affected.
Nice to know somebody cares. Even if, over the last 500 years, it seems that not many care about them.