Standing with Standing Rock: Voices from the #NoDAPL Movement (Indigenous Americas)
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About the Author
Nick Estes is Kul Wicasa, a citizen of the Lower Brule Sioux Tribe. He is assistant professor of American studies at the University of New Mexico; cofounder of The Red Nation, an organization dedicated to Indigenous liberation; and author of Our History Is the Future: Standing Rock versus the Dakota Access Pipeline, and the Long Tradition of Indigenous Resistance.
Jaskiran Dhillon is a first-generation anticolonial scholar and organizer who grew up on Treaty Six Cree Territory in Saskatchewan, Canada. She is associate professor of global studies and anthropology at The New School and author of Prairie Rising: Indigenous Youth, Decolonization, and the Politics of Intervention.
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I can highly recommend this excellent look into the #NoDAPL resistance by First American tribes.
Over the last few years the women of the Oceti Sakowin, the Seven Council Fires, have added their voices to the Saskatoon, Canadian ladies and their Idle No More resistance, elevating Standing Rock to a step in an international movement of (mostly) women of all tribes seeking to leave an environment that our grandchildren will be able to thrive upon. Common sense dictates that the world will not survive at all with our 'modern' way of doing business. Unfortunately, common sense is mostly missing in the halls of government.
Standing with Standing Rock is a collection of essays, poems, interviews, photographs, and living histories that form the basis of the Standing Rock resistance. Whatever race you consider you were born into, we are all one people. We need good, clean water every day. Without it, there is no life. It is hard to understand why this very obvious fact is lost in the fight for the continued use of fossil fuels. This work and American Indianology 101 by George L. Russell will bring you to ground zero in the battle of common sense vs. petroleum profits whatever your personal heritage. This is a battle humans can not afford to lose. We are already well on the way to becoming an endangered species. Standing with Standing Rock is essential to our continued existence.
In Standing With Standing Rock, we have a collection of writings (essays, narratives, and poems) about the anti-DAPL effort and its significance. One entry to start with is The Great Sioux Nation and the Resistance to Colonial Land-Grabbing. The land-grabbing phenomena is nothing new in the USA, and it’s been a problem for all Americans, not just Native American people, thanks to eminent domain. However, tribal reservation lands seem to get grabbed the most, and it’s not just for farming and ranching (the historical reason) or mining and drilling (the modern reason) but for things like golf courses. It isn’t just a problem in the USA, but in Canada as well, as we saw with the Oka protests in Quebec in the 1990’s. News stories of greedy stock and oil men, drooling over a tribe’s land, won’t shock anybody.
Roxanne Dunbar-Ortiz (author of An Indigenous Peoples’ History of the United States) uses her essay on land-grabbing to show how the treaties between the tribes and the US government changed over time (usually with dismal results.) First there was the treaty with the plains tribes (1805) which was of no consequence, because there were few settlers west of the Mississippi. However, the fur trade soon began, and the US had more incentive to put forts in the area. She says that when the tribes found that they could trade furs for European guns, horses, and other goods, they became more dependent on them (though she doesn’t expressly mention it, I bet alcohol may have played a part.) Then you had farmers moving in, then gold was found, then oil, and because the country’s industries were resource-dependent, there was more incentive to break the treaties.
Another point made by Dunbar-Ortiz is that the government kept the reservations scattered to keep them from unifying. There were six Sioux reservations, miles apart from each other, so it was difficult for them to work together. She also shows how giving the tribes the reservations was, is, and will be, akin to snatching a man’s property and giving him a cheap gift. Essentially it was “here’s a piece of land where you can hunt all you like, now we’ll take the rest of the land, and we’re sure you’ll be satisfied with what we’ve given you.” After looking at Google Earth/Map, and seeing the reservations, I really have to wonder why the Sioux (and other tribes) can’t have more space. The area surrounding the Pine Ridge reservation is unfarmed, unsettled, unbuilt, devoid of roads, and you can drive for miles without seeing anyone or anything. It’s not like anybody wants the land, seeing as it’s far away from anything. One would think the state of Nebraska would love to be rid of responsibility for it, and if it were given to the reservation, it would become the Fed’s problem. The answer may be in the origin of the treaty; Congress wouldn’t give away land they might need, and today they won’t risk losing the right to the minerals.
Tribal sovereignty is another issue covered in this book, and a major bone of contention with regards to the DAPL. Maybe it seems trite to say it, because running a pipeline over anyone’s territory is bound to cause trouble (look at Ukraine for an example.) Andrew Curley’s essay Beyond Environmentalism is all about the way that the DAPL protests gained broad support, thanks to the mutual concern over ecology. He also writes on how the indigenous people, once portrayed as backward and lazy, became the “noble ecologists” who lived with nature. He does, however, note that the image is still racist (remember the Crying Indian commercial?) and pigeonholes the people as one-dimensional. Still, he argues that the need to protect the land from pollution was the reason that the outsiders came in to help, and the outside help is usually attracted by a mutual benefit.