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Standing Rock: New Native American Union


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#1 Selena

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Posted 09 September 2016 - 03:13 AM

So, I guess this is somewhat controversial because of the pipeline itself, so I'll put this thread here instead of in the Commons. 

 

 

 

An interesting historical phenomenon is happening in North Dakota right now. Indigenous nations from all around the Americas are gathering in Standing Rock to protest the construction of a new oil pipeline. There are numerous reasons for this. The Dakotas have seen a sharp increase in small-scale spills ever since oil production there really ramped up -- impacting non-Native farmers and Native tribes alike. Land quality has decreased. The new pipeline also crosses the Missouri river, which supplies water to pretty much the entire midwest (and especially to the Standing Rock reservation). While the new pipeline is hardly the only oil source moving over the river, the danger of a major spill increases with each new project that crosses over the water.

 

 

Right now, we're seeing independent Native nations come together like never before. The alliances being formed at this protest are wider in scope than any of the historical confederacies that were in place before US expansion into native territory. They are assembling at a tribal encampment named Sacred Stone. It's a mix of modern tents and tipis. Volunteers cook for the entire camp, tutors teach any kids who have come along to participate in the historic union, there a huge assembly of flags representing each tribe present, etc.
 

 

  • The Great Sioux Nation (one of the largest old Native confederacies) has effectively reformed for the first time since the Battle of Little Bighorn. This is a big deal because the US government deliberately broke the Great Sioux Nation apart by splitting up its tribes and sending various bands to separate corners of the Dakotas. 
     
  • Other Plains nations, even the ones who used to be rivals of the Sioux, have also joined in. The Assiniboine, the Crow, the Blackfoot, etc.
     
  • People from Plains nations have brought in horses and are riding them in the traditional way. Including the "introduction" between combatants, where they charge but don't touch the opposition -- which, needless to say, scared ND police officers. It's kind of like their version of the Maori haka.
     
  • Members of the Iroquois Confederacy have arrived from out east.
     
  • Descendants of the Triple Alliance ("Aztecs") have come up from Central America
     
  • Canadian First Nations are also taking part -- either from official support or from individuals who have joined the camp.
     
  • The various Coast Salish nations (from the Pacific Northwest) have sent a delegation to Standing Rock. The Lummi carved an elaborate totem pole which has been set up at the camp -- which is a big symbol of generosity, 'cause that's a huge project. The Swinomish (the tribe that neighbors my town) sent a legal team to Washington D.C.
     
  • Salish nations have also dispatched "the fleet." Traditional Salish canoes were transported to the Missouri river, where they paddled into the camp and, as old custom dictated, asked for permission to come ashore. The canoes are now on standby.
     
  • A Swinomish/Tulalip photographer has been taking photographs and video of the entire ordeal in an effort to show how things are on the ground.
     
  • Interior tribes from WA, like the Yakama and Nez Perce, are also in attendance.
     
  • The Cherokee Nation has been sending bulk supplies to the camp (water, food, etc.). 
     
  • There are either participants or support coming from roughly half of the 500+ tribes in the United States, and more from abroad. More nations are joining every day.
     

 

Meanwhile, North Dakota's state government is continuing to crack down on protesters. The oil industry is big in North Dakota, so that's to be expected. They cut off water to the camp area, keep shutting down internet availability to limit communications, and have now mobilized the National Guard. "Private security" working on behalf of the pipeline benefactors also used half-trained dogs to "deter" protesters, which resulted in numerous people getting bit. The dogs even turned on their own "handlers." One handler was seen beating her dog to incite it to attack. Another released his dog so he could personally get into a scuffle with a protester. The unrestrained dog then ran out and attacked a horse.

 

It's getting interesting. I'm hoping it doesn't end up being another Wounded Knee '73 incident. Then, the Oglala Sioux seized the sacred site of Wounded Knee after they failed to peacefully remove a highly corrupt government -- it resulted in live fire between activists and police, a few deaths, and ensured that Native Americans aren't allowed to horde guns like upstanding white people are. You get put on a watch list to this day.

 

So far, the protesters aren't really violent unless it's self-defense, though there's "mischief" like spray painting bulldozers and removing fences and people chaining themselves up to equipment.



#2 JRPomazon

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Posted 09 September 2016 - 09:18 PM

http://usuncut.com/n...e-announcement/

 

This news came out recently, the POTUS making a statement on the events going and indefinately shutting down all construction for the pipeline and saying that the military will move in to ensure it stays that way if need be. If D.C. is actually backing the protestors then we might see something incredible happen for the remaining native tribes in the continent. I'm not really sure what I can say, being the descendant of European immigrants but I'm rooting for these guys to win their fight.



#3 Selena

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Posted 13 September 2016 - 12:06 AM

The indefinite shutdown (of that section) by the DOJ resulted in much rejoicing in the camp. Right now, everyone is gearing up to stay throughout the winter -- stocking up on solar generators and small-scale wind turbines and general supplies. They don't want people to forget about the issue or have the construction company resume their efforts once everyone's out of the way. Which is a pretty tall order. These people aren't like those rednecks who couldn't survive in an insulated US parks building. These guys will be braving a midwestern winter in tents and traditional tipis. 

 

 

 

More nations have gathered. A delegation of Native Hawaiians arrived from the Island of Hawai'i. The Sarayaku from Ecuador's Amazon forest region also arrived. North, Central, and South America. Pacific Islanders. Pretty much got every indigenous American region covered now. 

 

 

https://www.facebook...70337153255315/

 

Most tribal nations are wholly independent from each other. While some tribal governments have interacted to an extent, this is the first time regular tribal members have interacted with a giant host of other tribes. Most of the time, if you grow up on a Rez, you don't really see anyone other than your own extended cultural group during traditional ceremonies.

 

Now distant groups are meeting for the first time in 200+ years (before colonization shut down old indigenous trade routes). Some tribes are meeting for the first time ever. The major silver lining to all of this is that very precious knowledge is being exchanged. Everyone is learning more about each other than ever before. Friendships are being formed that cross oceans. Some find it to be almost like a spiritual form of healing. From a cultural and historical standpoint, everyone in attendance is could be experiencing a once-in-a-lifetime event. Hopefully not just the once. But possibly.



#4 Egann

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Posted 13 September 2016 - 06:45 AM

I have been expecting a revitalization of Native American culture for some time now. I doubt this is actually worth the response--it's just a pipeline--so much as it was looking for an excuse to happen, which is likely why it survived the DOJ ruling. And yes, I am aware that the DOJ ruling was in their favor; rulings in favor of your lobby are much more likely to kill off your support than rulings against. The DOJ ruling was just a bit premature in the sense that it could have killed off interest in beating the pipeline before attention moved to making a second Iroquois Confederacy or just networking.

 

Could have, and quite possibly was intended to. "Block the pipeline over the winter and let the support freeze over?" Sounds a lot like a corporate lobbyist to me. It could also be Obama not wanting an incident on his legacy--which could include people freezing to death in a protest.

 

Bottom line, I do hope a governing body of some sort comes out of this.



#5 JRPomazon

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Posted 13 September 2016 - 11:35 PM

If protesters are ready to stay the winter in the areas in question, I reckon they're just about ready to really make some headway on uniting. I think the idea of Obama's legacy having any black eyes might have been the rushed caused for this decision but who knows what long term plan is being hatched from those who would profit on the pipeline. Unless they form a unified front sooner than later, they might have to deal with another attempt on the land from folks who won't be playing around.



#6 Egann

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Posted 14 September 2016 - 05:11 PM

The long term profits (or lack thereof) is one of the key reasons I'm loosely against the pipeline. Graphene supercapacitors and nuclear fusion tech are both in the R&D pipeline right now, or approaching usable technologies fast. We are, in fact, at the point we need to start discussing how to transition away from fossil fuels and to their replacement technologies. And before you start celebrating about the green revolution ending global warming, remember that the interior of the continental US is not the only place making oil. ISIS and Saudi Arabia all need to sell oil to live, and Russia--a totalitarian state with a million nukes--is practically dependent on it. Carelessly adopting the new tech could trigger a world war.
 
One more pipeline which might be obsolete in two years and get it's operations suspended in ten isn't worth a political stink. But my major concern is the winter. If the protesters are hunkering down to block construction over the winter, more power to them...but a North Dakota winter can be serious business. Say the media drops by in the middle of winter right before a cold wave. A cosplay convention could really get people killed.

Edited by Egann, 14 September 2016 - 05:12 PM.


#7 Selena

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Posted 14 September 2016 - 06:10 PM

About DAPL:
 

That's the main reason I'm against the pipeline, too. Fossil fuels are a 20th century energy source. They were very good for their time, but they aren't viable going forward. They're messy. They're dangerous to both people and the environment if something goes wrong. And, most importantly, we burn through them faster than the Earth can naturally replenish them. Last I read, a report from BP itself -- not a hippie green energy site -- indicated that there was roughly enough oil left for only 50-some years (at the current rate we consume it). It is a scientific inevitability that we'll transition away from fossil fuels. Best get on with it. Every new pipeline or major fracking operation just encourages people to further delay the inevitable. It's investing money in an industry that has an expiration date. 

 

"But JOOOOBS" cry the white rednecks in North Dakota. Logic would dictate that a new pipeline would result in a net loss of jobs, yes? It takes more manpower to transport oil by truck and rail. Once the pipeline is constructed, there's nothing left for the workers to do. The only people left on staff are specialists who perform occasional maintenance. 

 

It is a waste of time and money, and there's been enough oil "accidents" and "side effects" in the Dakotas to the point where land quality is steadily decreasing.

 

 

 

About the growing Native union:

 

Winter could indeed prove dangerous, but it sounds like donations are also pouring in -- battery chargers, battery powered heaters, all weather tents, thick clothing, etc. If they get enough stuff, I wouldn't be surprised if at least a portion of the camp makes it through. Some of the kids might disperse for safety reasons, but that's understandable. 

 

There is one big pan-Native organization already: The National Congress of American Indians (NCAI). It's not really a governing body. It's a glorified lobbying organization, I suppose. A way for everyone to get activists and legal teams organized. It would be a wonderful thing if an actual unified governing body came together. One big roadblock, though:

 

The Bureau of Indian Affairs (BIA). 

 

The BIA is basically the middle-man between tribal nations and the federal government. Most tribes can't do anything politically substantial without BIA approval (ex.: buy back old reservation land that was sold off via broken treaties). The BIA is widely loathed by tribal governments because of its corruption and ineffectiveness. People have been trying to get rid of it for decades. You can find video of activist Russell Means speaking out against it in some hearings during the 1970s. 

 

Some tribes -- especially the one where I'm from -- have been trying to use legal-fu to sever as many ties with the BIA as possible. Swinomish is gearing up for a major legal war with the BIA. They're going to rewrite their tribal constitution and strictly limit the BIA's influence. If successful, this could pave the way for actual tribal sovereignty and a nationwide tribal confederacy.

 

Tribes were meant, after all, to have the same level of sovereignty as any other US state. That obviously never happened.



#8 Egann

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Posted 15 September 2016 - 07:31 PM

I mention the winter because I've done some thinking and I don't like the conclusions.

 

For starters, this has received a lot of attention--and support--for a pipeline which, to be honest, isn't that important. It's mostly a matter of scale; the Wounded Knee protest Selena mentioned barely involved 200 people. This one has something over 1,000, with some estimates going significantly higher. This is a huge protest, and there's a lot of support from different directions. Does an oil pipeline actually warrant this response? No. Not even close.

 

Dakota winters can be extreme--between wind chill and cold waves, they can feel like they're 50 below or worse, and few things let politicians ram policies through quite like dead bodies. Say something terrible happens and a significant chunk of those protesters freeze to death. Wouldn't that make a fantastic excuse for the BIA to step in and limit the rights of Native Americans to protest on their own land? To even use their own land? Then there's the timing. The next president's inauguration will be January 20, 2017, right after Christmas and New Years excitement wears off and winter settles in. If Hillary wins, she can diffuse the situation by issuing an executive order. Drumpf can't do that without looking like he's immediately forsaking his pro-economy platform. 

 

Now, imagine you are a conspirator bent on giving the BIA power or just landing a political bomb in Drumpf's lap. What would you actually have to do to get people killed? Arrange a media visit when a cold snap is on the way? Unplug a couple generators or make a clerical error so something runs out? Abandon a crate of distilled spirits? 

 

What am I afraid of? I'll sum it into a single word. Sabotage.






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