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.