Published February 8, 2017
I normally check my Twitter feed every morning to catch up on the latest news, opinions and events that happened throughout the night. This morning I saw a tweet by ABC News embedded with a video of President Trump responding to questions regarding the US Army Corps of Engineers announcement that they intended to approve the final easement and allow the Dakota Access Pipeline to cross the Missouri River less than a mile above the Standing Rock Sioux Reservation in North Dakota.
“As you know I approved two pipelines that were stuck in limbo forever. I don’t even think it was controversial. You know I approved them, I haven’t even heard, I haven’t had one call from anybody saying, “Oh that was terrible thing you did” I haven’t had one call. Usually, if I do something it’s like bedlam. Right? I haven’t had one call from anybody. And you know, a lot of jobs, in the Keystone case we have potentially 32,000 jobs. Almost immediately. And then as you know I did the Dakota pipeline. And nobody called up to complain. Because it was unfair. Years of getting approvals. Nobody showed up to fight it. This company spends a tremendous, hundreds and hundreds of millions of dollars and then all of a sudden people show up to fight it. That’s not fair to our companies. And I think everyone’s going to be happy in the end. Okay?” (ABC News)
I heard President Trumps comments and was astounded. He was talking about the Dakota Access Pipeline. The pipeline that has brought about one of the largest gathering of Native peoples in the history of the United States. Tens of thousands of people, from hundreds of tribes have stood in solidarity for months against the building of this pipeline. I did not know how many of us have actually CALLED Donald Trump’s White House, but no halfway informed leader could legitimately say they have not heard voices of opposition. Especially the President of the United States.
But I thought, OK. I’ll do it his way. So I looked up the Contact the White House web page and found the comments phone number. I composed a re-tweet of the video with a comment imploring people to call the White House Comment line at 202-456-1111. If Donald Trump wanted to hear from us via phone calls, so be it.
I clicked Tweet and then immediately picked up my phone to call the White House, voice my complaint and protest President Trump’s support and approval of the Dakota Access Pipeline.
Male voice: “Thank you for calling the White House Comments line.”
Female Voice: “Thank you for calling the White House Comment line. The comment line is currently closed…”
Closed??? Are you kidding me??? President Trump has ignored months of protest by hundreds of tribes and thousands of people and goes out of his way to state that he has not received ONE phone call of complaint regarding the Dakota Access Pipeline. He concludes that the lack of phone calls is proof that Dakota Access Pipeline is not controversial, companies are being treated unfairly, and everyone is going to be happy in the end with his decision to approve the pipeline. And his White House public comments phone line is CLOSED!
I hung up the phone and deleted my tweet.
Our elders leading the resistance at Standing Rock are very wise. When confronting companies driven by greed, they have modeled that the best steps begin with prayer, ceremony and standing in solidarity. I would apply this same model to confronting a narcissistic President who is surrounded by billionaires and insulated by alternate facts. Donald Trump has intentionally chosen not to hear our protests, but Creator will definitely hear our prayers.
Resist in beauty my relatives.
Mark Charles (Navajo) serves as the Washington DC correspondent for Native News Online and is the author of the popular blog “Reflections from the Hogan.” His writings are regularly published by Native News Online in a column titled “A Native Perspective” which addresses news directly affecting Indian Country as well as offering a Native perspective on national and global news stories. Mark is active on Facebook, Twitter, YouTube and Instagram .