Photo by Christopher Francisco
Before the NODAPL Sioux Indian Protest passes into the history books – and the next phase begins of America, Canada and the rest of the world’s continued address of Climate Change and how to more quickly convert from fossil fuels to renewable energies – it’s both important and insightful to reflect upon what exactly happened over the past several months that the NODAPL Protest raged. It’s a big story and a very old one that speaks to the heart of what has happened in this instance between the clash of world views of indigenous, aboriginal and European peoples as it has everywhere else in the world since the moment of first contact.
President Barack Obama is widely-applauded for finally having showed the courage to call a temporary halt to the construction of the Dakota Access Pipeline (DAPL). But it may prove to be a Pyrrhic victory for Native peoples, environmentalists and Climate Change proponents and only amount to a brief halt once President-Elect Donald Trump, who has personal investments in the Dakota Access Pipeline and is known to generally favour more oil pipeline construction and fossil fuel development, takes hold of the reins of America and plots a very different course of action for DAPL, America’s fossil-fuel industry and the very fate of Climate Change itself.
Even President Obama, as America’s current Commander-in-Chief, stood idly by for months and did nothing to intercede, for humanitarian reasons if no other, on behalf of defenceless, non-violent Sioux Indian pipeline protestors and their international supporters who were being violently set upon by the political, law enforcement and military forces of the United States Government and North Dakota authorities. Instead, as the Sioux and others steadfastly sought to peacefully block construction of DAPL through their sacred burial grounds, President Obama allowed the chaotic turn of events to escalate to the life-threatening point where innocent men, women, children and elders were subjected to some of the most inhumane, heinous, disgraceful physical assaults imaginable since the atrocities committed by American political and law enforcement authorities during the contentious Civil Rights Movement of the 1960s & 70s.
Unarmed water protectors face militarized force.
During the months that led up to President Obama’s decision to withdraw the permit to allow DAPL to continue construction, America’s mainstream press and vast media network did little to truthfully bring to the American public’s attention the real facts of what all was going on. This wasn’t by accident it was an intentional news black-out. Hence, for months many horrific things transpired, much to the detriment of America’s reputation, that remained all but invisible unless independent and alternative journalists took it upon themselves to become the sources of breaking news stories. They were the kind of horrific stories one would expect to see or hear happening in some fascist police state rather than in the heart of America, like: vicious guard dog attacks by Energy Transfer Partners, the Wall Street conglomerate who are behind the DAPL military-like construction project, or the ruthless Wall Street bankers and petroleum moguls who sat in their distant boardrooms in New York, Washington D.C. and Dallas and directed the DAPL operations to proceed regardless of the tragic cost to human life and limb that was intentionally perpetrated against the protestors. Then there were the vicious, brutal attacks led by North Dakota Governor Jack Dalyrmple, Morton County Sheriff Kyle Kirchmeier and hordes of state police brought in from four surrounding states who committed unspeakably violent attacks against the human and civil rights of the NODAPL protesters, assisted by the U.S. National Guard troops who indiscriminately sprayed, at point-blank range, the passive, peaceful protestors with every conceivable weapon short of heavy combat assault weaponry, ranging from MACE, Pepper Spray, Taser darts, rubber bullets, bean bag projectiles, concussion grenades, high-powered water cannons and ear-busting acoustic sound cannons. All these atrocities were added to by a veritable sea of lies made to the public by American politicians, police and military authorities who falsely charged that the violence being committed at DAPL was reciprocal between the Sioux and the authorities. Through all the lies, deceit and violence, America’s mainstream press and media did little to counter fiction with truth. As one Sioux protestor commented, “Does that surprise you? It’s the White Man’s press telling the story their way!”
President Obama, on the eve of the Christmas holidays, as wintry temperatures on the North Dakota prairies continued to plummet to life-threatening lows, finally put a “better late than never” end to the wholesale mayhem that was soon going to ramp up all the more if something dramatic didn’t happen to stop it. Up to that point, the Sioux had demonstrated remarkable, Mahatma Gandhi-like, forbearance and restraint in their refusal to match the brutality being committed against them by the American Government.
But before this barbaric historic event in American history finally came to an end, the direction towards which it was heading reminded this writer of the Final Solution that, 80 years before, Germany had cunningly-devised for its so-called “Jewish Problem”. 80 years later, it felt as if the American government and its U.S. Army Corp of Engineers were on the verge of planning their own diabolical ‘final solution’ to America’s own Sioux Problem.
The Sioux, of course, never would have ever been gassed as the Jews once were, but while the world once again was kept ignorant and in the dark about their fate, all hell was about to break loose as reactionary elements within the U.S. Government and military were on the verge of officially declaring “illegal” the existence of the Sioux’s Oceti Sakowin DAPL Protest village site that had spontaneously sprung up, forcibly shut it down, evict everyone and transport thousands of its resident protesters to so-called isolated free speech zones. The chaos would have been immense. The televised spectacle on world news would have become a colossal embarrassment for America.
IT WAS A CLOSE CALL! To say, “All hell would have broken loose” is to put it mildly as a column of seasoned U.S. military war veterans already was assembling to rush to the aid and defense of the Sioux. Events would have undoubtedly led to an even uglier moment in American history than it already was had that happened and still could occur once President-Elect Donald Trump is inaugurated as America’s new Commander-in-Chief.
Horrific images come to mind of the Sioux in the recent past or future being kept out of sight and out of mind in the government’s new Orwellian free speech zones prepared for them where they either would be left to freeze to death or until they finally gave up in despair in the face of the assembled hostile military elements on land, air and cyberspace that were massed against them. Isolated in these bizarre zones, the Sioux wouldn’t actually ever be able to see the on-going construction of the Dakota Access Pipeline (DAPL). Equally as important, they wouldn’t be able to be seen by the world attempting to block its continued construction. This cunning concept to control and muzzle major social, enviornmental, politial movements and protests like NODAPL, that could be described as a 21st Century ‘concentration camp’, isn’t anything new and represents a throwback to the U.S. Army’s original prison camp concept of Indian Reservations that the Sioux’s ancestors, a century before, were likewise forced onto to remove them as well from obstructing the White Man’s civilization and its then constant Westward HO! Empire-building movement.
Once President Trump and his administration assume office, this final solution for the Sioux, DAPL & Climate Change could still become a reality that would ensure the ability of Wall Street, the Fossil-Fuel industry, Big Banks, their investors/stockholders and the ‘New Normal’ of Donald Trump’s no-nonsense, Law & Order, alt-right supporters to continue to make record profits while seizing ever more control of every vestige of human life and still maintain complete dominion over every other species and natural resource on Earth. The masses, and especially the 1%ers, could then also be kept happily sedated while their oil stocks continue to sky-rocket as they sip their martini’s on some palatial cruise ship or exotic ‘Club Med’ playground and experience what they’ve been led to believe is the ultimate “good life”.
Meanwhile, in the future, with the Sioux and their allies invisibly sequestered away in America’s new ‘free speech zones’, America’s brand name could continue to evolve into the New Normal ways of life that are now being planned and promoted in every country by ‘The Donald’s’ of the world. All the American and foreign wars fought in the past – The Indian Wars, The Great Sioux War, U.S. Civil War, the big and little Corporate Wars, would continue to remain part of the same unbroken chain of violence, duplicity and betrayal that, in modern times, began with a vengeance once the Western European brand names in the New World in general and U.S. in particular first sought to portray itself as: ‘America The Beautiful’; ‘The American Dream’; ‘Land of the Free & Home of the Brave’, or; the ‘Shining City Upon That Hill’, as prophesized in a biblical parable by none other than Jesus Christ himself during his Sermon on the Mount.
With the coming inauguration of President Donald Trump, whatever clever marketing ploys are yet to be crafted in the future to further promote the American brand name won’t every change the course and direction of its civilization’s way of life or its now most-favoured empire-building document: A Project For a New American Century (PNAC). Soon to be President Donald Trump isn’t the main culprit he’s simply the latest manifest symptom of an ultimate moral and ethical decay that one might argue was set into motion at the moment of its birth as it was for every other rebranded European name in the New World. One might further argue that Donald Trump isn’t about to radically remake the American brand so much as serve as its best and brightest cheerleader/salesman who will greatly speed up the evolution of its brand in ways that only ‘The Donald’ can.
America, at its core, never has believed in the philosophy of a socialistic democracy that advocates for principles like: caring for one’s fellow man or woman; unionism for the protection of ordinary worker’s rights; the right to a liveable hourly wage; universal health care; the sacred protection and preservation of the natural world. Karl Marx was correct in his predictions of what would ultimately happen to Western capitalistic countries like America.
Given this reality, one might also argue that this is why American culture, and its political-military-corporate-class systems and governmental structures, since the beginning, have been so fundamentally opposed to indigenous, aboriginal cultures like the Sioux and their communalistic ways of life that naturally practice values, principles and beliefs that seek to keep life sacred and in balance. By contrast, the American/Western European belief system is predicated upon perpetual growth and ever-larger consumptions of energy and resources, where the unsustainable explosion of human populations is now the sole source of every deteriorating man-made condition on earth. The indigenous sensibility of those like the Sioux instead contends that we humans have been created solely as caretakers of the many legacies that we are obligated to bequeath as intact as we possibly can to future coming generations of human and non-human species of life. Such beliefs represent a far cry from America’s founding fathers and today’s even more evolved world view of ‘The Donald’ and his supporters who instead look upon we humans as having been created as the sole dominant species whose God has decreed to it dominion over all other forms of life along with the arrogant belief that whatever actions it may take as a result aren’t the source of whatever modern notion of unsustainable population explosion or human-caused climate change. So, for better or worse, as our tiny Earth-orb continues to hurl through the universe, this Star Wars mentality, like it or not, is going where it’s going and taking the whole lot of us with it.
So here we are on the eve of 2017, about to crown what some would call, “the most powerful man on Earth,” who will usher in a new world order and, as many fear, sound the death knell to whatever good, beautiful, holy, wholesome thing that America’s brand names once promised it one day would otherwise become but lied because it never will.
To know all this to be true, one need only ask the Sioux and their allies what they’ve been up against over the past several months as they’ve resolutely stood together, in the face of terrible oppression and the worst of conditions, locked arm-in-arm in solidarity on the far distant prairies of North Dakota, while attempting to cry out loud enough “NODAPL!”, in the hope that the rest of America and the world would hear their pleas and echo even louder the prayer and chant their cry represents for the future.
Jerome Irwin is a freelance writer and author of “The Wild Gentle Ones; A Turtle Island Odyssey”
(www.turtle-island-odyssey.com), a three volume account of his travels as a spiritual sojourner, during the 1960’s, 70’s & 80’s, among Native American & First Nation nations in North America. It encompasses the burgeoning Spiritual Renaissance & Liberation Movements among native peoples throughout North America that occurred at the height of its civil rights movements .More recently, Irwin authored a series of articles that covered the “NODAPL” Sioux Protest in North Dakota. Irwin also is the publisher of The Wild Gentle Press.