Thoughts on Standing Rock

At this moment, it appears that the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe and their allies have won.

I have admired their campaign. They framed their message and kept it simple. They used social media brilliantly. By remaining peaceful, they performed sort of a jujitsu move on their opponents, in this case, the Morton County Sheriff’s Department, the tool of choice of Energy Transfer Partners.

I doubt the Morton County Sheriff’s Department even today understands what hit them. Every decision they made was the wrong one. Maybe it’s the hangover of the election, but they apparently thought that simply saying something was enough. But when the “water protectors” (and, jeez, how simple is that?) broadcasts live what the police have become in America, I think it shocked the shit out of people.

People like Wesley Clark Jr., for instance.

I’m hopeful that this is a great awakening. I’ve been hoping for a resistance to the constant nibbling and outright whacking away at the Constitution. And again, timing might be in play here. President Elect Trump has not, so far, demonstrated any understanding or appreciation for our Constitution. And a resistance will be needed.

What cannot be underestimated is the extremely high moral ground of Native Americans. Their constant reiteration of non-violence and prayer; their clear message of protecting water, their clear willingness to put their bodies in jeopardy, their constant “join us” invitations…..they were brilliant. That is leadership. That is exactly what is needed. Simple. Direct. Inclusive. Creative.

I hope for follow through. I hope evidence is looked for of collusion between the fossil fuel industry and the Dalrymple administration. I hope indictments, trials and prison time follow. I hope government gets the message that we would like for them to disconnect from industry. None of that will happen, of course.

I fear our government far more than terrorists. They allow threats to our food, air, water every day, in the name of business. We should have resisted this years ago, back in the 1980s.  It might have made a difference then.

Obviously, I hope that the Dakota Access Pipeline, and others, don’t get built, or at least don’t get built near major water sources.

It’s been very educational watching this happen. I’ve been checking the Morton County Sheriff’s Department Facebook page, and this department’s unofficial motto could be “Conspiracy is unnecessary when everyone thinks the same.”

They all look alike. They all sound alike. Heavy authoritarianism, lots of testosterone, lots of swagger. This is racism, folks. Institutionalized racism. They need to do some recruiting outside the mold. They need new leadership. They need to study the Constitution. They need to understand what groupthink is.

When it was announced that vets were coming to Standing Rock to protect the protectors, there was a moment when the Sheriff’s department tried to discredit the leaders of that group.  That lasted about ten seconds.

The Military Veterans who have stepped up surprised the shit out of me. I did not see that coming. As a child of the 60s, I’ve viewed our military as an extension of our industry. When our industries need something, be it oil, rubber, or whatever, we go to war to get it. The military has allowed itself to be used as a force of capitalism over and over again. So, I don’t generally get all misty eyed over our troops sacrifice. I don’t have close friends who have served.  I’ve sat during the national anthem.

But this action, and some others, have made me re-evaluate my thinking.

I was stunned and yes, awed, by something I saw on Facebook. A small group of veterans felt called to apologize to the Native Americans at Standing Rock for the part their units played in the past of genocide and forced relocation of our First Americans. They had an audience with tribal leaders. They humbled themselves by taking a knee, acknowledged the past, mentioned a few specific crimes or sins, and asked for forgiveness. By their presence at Standing Rock to protect the water protectors, they atoned.

Maybe it’s the Catholic upbringing, but that just killed me, to see that. White men, humbling themselves voluntarily. Has to be one of the most rare, beautiful and moving things I’ve ever witnessed. I could be proud to be associated with that group.

We are going to need a resistance.


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