Can this Be Happening in Obama’s America?

Where have I been these past months? Apparently I have been anesthetized by the shenanigans of the election.

Today I became aware of a report of Native People in North Dakota getting hit by water cannons in frigid temperatures as they were protesting the installment of the Dakota Access Pipeline (DAPL). Then I also saw a video of women talking about the abuses of Native Americans protesters. These stories are heartbreaking.

The concern of the protestors is that the pipeline will contaminate their water and destroy their sacred burial grounds. We know the history of how the Native Americans were treated, and we often decry the genocide that happened “in the past.” But today. Now. In America. In the same country in which we elected our first black president, and came close to electing our first woman president. It is still happening.

What does Obama have to say about this? According to a report by The Guardian, he said the government was “going to let it play out for several more weeks and determine whether or not this can be resolved in a way that I think is properly attentive to the traditions of the first Americans.” How is that for ambiguity? This is the same man who put a stop to the Keystone Pipeline. Why stop it and not DAPL? In this same report, Hillary Clinton was cited as saying she believed “all voices should be heard,” adding: “It’s important that on the ground in North Dakota, everyone respects demonstrators’ rights to protest peacefully, and workers’ rights to do their jobs safely.” How’s that for following in Obama’s footsteps?

Bernie Sanders made a statement that was much more decisive. He said the pipeline must be stopped once and for all, according to another report in The Guardian. At least one of our candidates would have taken a stand.

And as for Donald Trump? He apparently has not publicly commented on the protests, but it was revealed in October that he has close financial ties to Energy Transfer Partners. Lovely. We can count on Trump finishing what Obama started. I wonder what incentive Obama has for not putting a stop to this?

Why, may I ask, do we give President Obama a free pass on issues like this? Why are we not just as outraged that this is happening while he is ruler of our lands as when Trump is? I do not understand.

Energy Transfer Partners is the company pushing on with this project. They plan to snake under the Missouri River, and it seems like they will do it, come what may. Militarized police forces from across the state have been brought in, as have the national guard. So far the protestors claim to have conducted non-violent protests. The tactics used by police are its opposite — they are coercive and violent.

This is happening in the “fly-over zone,” the often-overlooked part of the country. I must admit, I don’t know much about what happens in the state of North Dakota. But I recognize exploitation and human suffering when I read about it. If what The Guardian is reporting is true, then this is an incomprehensible injustice and an outrage.

There have been quite a few incidents of energy companies that had planned on crossing land owned by Amish families, such as the American Transmission Company in Wisconsin. The original plan was to erect power towers on Amish lands. Because the Amish protested, the company decided to reroute the lines.


Amish farmland in Cashton Wisconsin

© by Saloma Furlong

We can stop the Keystone Pipeline because of concerns about climate change. We can make a corporation reroute their plans for carrying electricity to preserve Amish farmlands. Why on God’s green earth can someone not stop this giant called Energy Transfer Partners from stomping on the rights of First Americans?

I keep thinking that in my own small ways, I need to show kindness and compassion everywhere I can to counter greed and evil in the world. The alternative to good winning out over evil is just too horrible to imagine. So I am publicly stating my solidarity with the Native Peoples in North Dakota and elsewhere. My prayers are with them. I will continue to believe that a David and Goliath outcome is still possible.

Update on December 21:

I have been following this story closely for some time. One of my favorite reports is by Joe Whittle published in the Guardian. It is a unique perspective and one that gave me such a sense of hope in the cause. This article quotes Lakota leader, Crazy Horse’s prophesy:

Upon suffering beyond suffering, the Red Nation shall rise again and it shall be a blessing for a sick world. A world filled with broken promises, selfishness and separations. A world longing for light again. I see a time of seven generations when all the colors of mankind will gather under the sacred Tree of Life and the whole Earth will become one circle again. In that day there will be those among the Lakota who will carry knowledge and understanding of unity among all living things, and the young white ones will come to those of my people and ask for this wisdom.

It seems there is no other way to explain this: Crazy Horse foresaw what was coming, generations before this stand-off at Standing Rock.

I am so glad that President Obama finally did the right thing by halting the pipeline when the Army Corp of Engineers did not approve an easement necessary for the project to continue. This really is a David and Goliath outcome. That the water protectors were able to back down a huge corporation, backed by other huge corporations is no small feat. This truly is “a blessing for a sick world.”

Of course the concern now is that another Goliath will rise up, given our our president-elect owns shares in Energy Transfer Partners. One wonders what he has in mind when he states that he will resolve this situation “very quickly” after taking the oath of office.

Ours is truly a world “longing for light again.” Instead of cursing the darkness, the Indian Nations have lit a candle. I am grateful to them for this beacon of hope in our perilous world.

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16 thoughts on “Can this Be Happening in Obama’s America?”

  1. Thank you for posting this. Thank you for speaking out loud for the native americans. The world needs more people like you.
    Best regards
    Karin from Scandinavia

    1. Karin, you are welcome, and thank you for reading it. I don’t know of the world needs more people like me, but I do think that more people should speak out when they see injustice.

      Thank you for stopping by.

  2. My great, great grandfather came to this country from Ireland and married a Choctaw Indian. Because of this the rights of American Indians was always very important to my mother. She supported American Indian schools most of her adult life. They are truly the forgotten people in this country!! It is a disgrace how our government looks the other way when it comes to these people and their needs. Their voice is rarely heard. Thank you Saloma for your passion and for speaking out on what’s happening in North Dakota. I did not know any of this was going on, it’s so sad.

  3. The shame and heartbreak are overwhelming, especially during Thanksgiving weekend.

    About ten years ago, I was monitoring a local organization with an extreme ideology. There were huge, open bins outside the building they rented. I looked inside and was horrified. The bins were filled with hundreds of new and nearly new children’s books and textbooks left out in the elements. The subject matters of the books were mostly science and Native American history.

    Later that day I checked their website and found they had been collecting the books for a bonfire. While I celebrate freedom of speech, I don’t celebrate wiping out scientific and historical facts.

    What is happening at Standing Rock is acceptable by too large of a segment of our population which has so little respect for Native Americans, to the point they would like to rewrite history and pretend they never existed.

    As for Obama, it is quickly becoming his darkest stain.

    1. Jean, thank you for your perspective. How heartbreaking that there are still people who would stamp out pieces of our history with book-burning.

      Obama is the Native People’s last hope, and that hope dwindles with each passing day. They know that when Trump becomes President, they have no chance at holding the company responsible… his financial ties with the company are too tight.

      I actually think Obama has more stains on his legacy than this one. His drone attacks have been unrelenting. I don’t know which is worse, to be honest. And these are the ones I know about… there are probably many more I don’t.

      I just keep hoping that peace will win out over violence in Standing Rock.

  4. Pingback: About Amish | Christmas Wishes from Our Home to Yours

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