Injuns worth more than weeds? When?

One would think that to construct a pipeline that would transport petroleum across many states of the US would require extensive consultation with local, state and federal authorities – as well as those would be affected by such a venture. Then, again, considering those who would be affected, the conclusion would be straightforward – they were called pests, among other names then, so no difference now even though political correctness in the US would demand not publicly using such a word. (It is still ‘entertaining’ to read those reports from the NYT on the merciless US campaign of dispossession and slaughter of the Indigenous, even late into the early 20th century.)

The United Nations, rather ineffectual on its best day, now enters the fray, as common dreams reports, UN Experts to United States: Stop DAPL Now Just a telling snippet from its Andrea Germanos,

Echoing pipeline opponents’ concerns, the statement from the UN Special Rapporteur on the rights of indigenous peoples, Victoria Tauli-Corpuz, cited the pipeline’s threats to drinking water and sacred sites. She also admonished the U.S. for failing to protect protesters’ rights and failing to properly consult with communities affected by the fossil fuel infrastructure.

So it should be no surprise for the federal authorities to have to act surprised (‘shocked, shocked’), and act only because of the brutal response to widespread peaceful protests from the Standing Rock Sioux and their increasing bands of supporters who have made their plight known mainly through alternative media that includes DemocracyNow!. Unsurprisingly, the US corporate media with their vested interests would be perfunctory – or silent – on the crisis.

In giving the presentation, The Legal Case for Blocking the Dakota Access Pipeline , Robinson Meyer of the Atlantic lays out some unpleasant history.

This might seem particularly odd when you consider the region’s history. The land beneath the pipeline was accorded to Sioux peoples by the Treaty of Fort Laramie in 1868. Eleven years later, the U.S. government incited and won the Great Sioux War, and “renegotiated” a new treaty with the Sioux under threat of starvation. In that document, the tribe ceded much of the Laramie land, including the Black Hills of South Dakota, where many whites believed there to be gold.

In the decades that followed, other land previously controlled by the Sioux was doled out by the federal government as homesteads to Native families; when those farms failed, the government often repossessed the land. And in 1980, the Supreme Court ruled that the Black Hills were taken unjustly, and it ordered the U.S. government to compensate the Sioux tribes fairly for them. But the Sioux declined the paymentwhich still sits in U.S. Treasury accounts, earning interest—because they seek possession or co-ownership of the land itself.

As they say, the game of charades continues. US corporate politicians, aside the customary theatrics of ‘citizen concern’, respond mainly to corporate interests, and for obvious reasons. For the Indigenous of the US (and elsewhere) the policy has changed little, since they matter so little.


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