the indigenous, living in the past

Those who have survived extirpation, in a few instance thrive. Otherwise for the majority of Native Americans, even of the US, it remains a struggle for survival – with the US government a not-insignificant contributor to that struggle. A recent example is the constructing of the Dakota Access Pipeline (DAPL).

As is known, before any ‘sod-turning’ ceremony can take place, and for a project of this scale, a checklist of tests, studies and consultations must be satisfactorily completed. For example, what impact (e.g., health, economic, social, environmental, cultural) would the laying of the pipeline have on communities and residents in its path. On satisfactory fulfillment of such requirements then can the ‘sod-turning’ business (photo-ops, speeches) take place. So then why are those ‘natives’ restless – if all such stuff was undertaken?

Issues such as fear of contamination of water supplies and desecration of ancestral lands feature in the concerns of the Standing Rock Sioux. And there has been support for their cause.

The unintended resurrection of a grim and bloody past now features in this struggle, as environmental scholar and activist, Bill McKibben, demonstrates in his post,  A Pipeline Fight and America’s Dark Past  at common dreams blog. In his support for the Indian tribes, he dispels the tired, media-created and promoted myths of the benevolent, egalitarian US. Couple paragraphs of a strongly worded article pulls open the curtain.

 Pictures from that confrontation recall pictures from Birmingham circa 1963. But the historical parallels here run much deeper—they run to the original sins of this nation. The reservation, of course, is where the Native Americans were told to live when the vast lands they ranged were taken by others. The Great Sioux Reservation, formed in the eighteen-sixties, shrunk again and again—in 1980, a federal court said, of the whole sad story, “a more ripe and rank case of dishonorable dealings will never, in all probability, be found in our history.” In the nineteen-fifties and early sixties, the Army Corps of Engineers—the same Army Corps now approving the pipeline—built five large dams along the Missouri, forcing Indian villages to relocate. More than two hundred thousand acres disappeared beneath the water.

Sioux history, and Native American history, is filled with one massacre and battle after another. Most of us have never heard of some of those encounters—the Whitestone, or Inyan Ska, massacre, for instance, not far from the present encampment, where at least three hundred Sioux lost their lives when Brigadier General Alfred Sully attacked men, women, and children feasting after a buffalo hunt.

To further emphasise the point, for the post by Jacqueline Keeler, TeleSUR gives the headline that takes us back in time, The Vicious Dogs of Manifest Destiny Resurface in North Dakota  History is again evoked to better appreciate progress made since Europeans ‘fearing religious persecution’ landed in the inhabited Americas, as the precedence of the corporation is made clear.

And what does it mean when the state or state-backed corporate conquistadors use dogs and violence to suppress the will of the people peacefully expressed? For many, the brutality of Energy Trust Partner’s hired security forces, with law enforcement’s tacit support and given favorable coverage by the mainstream media, is a sign that this pipeline is yet another example of the forced occupation of Océti Sakówin (the Great Sioux Nation) lands.

On an issue of such importance, the obvious question asked would be, As Dakota Access Pipeline Fight Grows, Where Are Obama and Clinton?

As one presidential candidate faces charges for spray-painting construction equipment at a Dakota Access Pipeline (DAPL) protest on Tuesday, many are calling for President Barack Obama and White House hopeful Hillary Clinton to make clear their own opposition to the controversial project.

Though the protests by the Standing Rock Sioux have been going on since April, only very recently a response would come from the US president who had years before done his photo-ops among them. That would happen in Laos, where the president would respond to a student’s question, tepidly and rather patronisingly (‘excellent question’). However, with the issuance of legal decision against the tribes, he would subsequently instruct his federal agencies involved in the process to announce a halt, a pause (?), in construction in that area, which they did.

In all this, where have been the corporate networks from which most USans still trust for their news? Well, the fair blog did give the answer, 48 Words at 4 AM Is All Network News Has to Say About Pipeline Protests Unlike them the non-corporate Democracy Now! did present its report from the protest site, where those dogs performed as in times past against the indigenous.

Further south in America, in Patagonia, Argentina another Native American tribe/nation would have its own struggles, and a struggle quite similar – hydrocarbon exploration and extraction of a more dangerous kind. TeleSUR informs us, Mapuches Fight Back Against Fracking in Argentine Patagonia

Mapuche Indigenous communities in the Argentine Patagonian province of Neuquen have denounced fracking in the Vaca Muerta shale reserves which they claim are contaminating their land and groundwater, killing their livestock.


With more than 400 fracking wells, Macri is turning the Patagonian desert into a gold mine for foreign extractivist corporations at the expense Indigenous communities who claim their ancestral lands to be respected. However, for the corporations these are small communities who live in an isolated area with extreme climate conditions.

So then 400 fracking wells? That raises many questions. A fundamental one is, in that checklist of activities to be satisfied before any exploration and extraction can commence, were the Mapuche of Patagonia and their environment at all considered?

Not much difference between events of the ‘north’ and the ‘south’ is there – especially given that often very cozy relationship between the corporation and those elected to serve the welfare of the populace?


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