Taking Our Stand on “The Rock” to Standing Rock


Lawrence O'Donnell with Shoshone Bannock tribal members (l-r) Alan Baldwin, Whitney Burns, LaNada War Jack, L O, and Tino Batt, council member

Lawrence O’Donnell with Shoshone Bannock tribal members (l-r) Alan Baldwin, Whitney Burns, LaNada War Jack, L O, and Tino Batt, council member


Published September 12, 2016

Editor’s Note: Dr. LaNada War Jack is a tribal citizen of the Shoshone Bannock Tribes. She resides on the Fort Hall Reservation, Idaho. She graduated from the University of California at Berkeley in 1971. In 1969, together with Indian students throughout California, she was a leader of the Alcatraz Island Takeover in protest of the federal government’s ill treatment of Native people and broken treaties. Dr. War Jack was on the founding board and executive board of the Native American Rights Fund. She served as an elected councilwoman for her tribes and served on many local and national boards. Dr. War Jack completed her graduate work at Idaho State University with a Masters in Public Administration and a Doctorate of Arts Degree in Political Science. Dr. Jack has spent the past couple weeks at the Standing Rock encampment. She agreed to help connect the two historic events in this exclusive commentary to Native News Online:

Its been 47 years to go full circle from the 1969 Alcatraz Indian Occupation to the Dakota Access Pipeline resistance to protect the sacred water of life.  When tribal officials were on the pipeline site, the police shoved and arrested tribal chairman, Dave Archambault II, of the Standing Rock Sioux tribe.  No one understood or knew the depth of this mistake. Chairman Archambault and tribal officials have been continuously working to protect the land and water from inception of this deadly intrusion through their homelands.

Now, the Dakota Access Pipeline (#DAPL) is becoming more and more powerful while growing unification and alliances worldwide daily.

LaNada Jack at Alcatraz Island in 1970

LaNada Jack at Alcatraz Island in 1970

During the Alcatraz Liberation, a nineteen-month occupation on the island, we initiated this action as students from various colleges and universities in California. We wanted enforcement of treaty obligations and to take our stand against the ill treatment of our people. The federal government immediately set out to divide young against old and tribes and reservations against urban communities. In the first place, they sent thousands of young Indians from boarding schools and reservations to urban cities through the BIA Relocation Program. Vice President Spiro Agnew’s office created the Tribal Chairman’s Association and initiated negative propaganda directly to the tribes through the National Office on Indian Opportunity in order to keep tribes and young people divided.

Alcatraz was unifying for all with thousands of Natives who began re-identifying as Native people again, going back into the culture and continuing their dances songs and spirituality. This ran contrary to the 1880 Congressional law that made our languages, culture, songs and dances illegal. The government was able to align tribal governments against Alcatraz and young people by tagging them as militant. The Alcatraz occupation remained peaceful because it was obvious to the people on the island that we we’re getting set up to be killed or violently removed. We had our children with us and called press conferences declaring we had no guns and were peaceful. We just happened to be in the spotlight of an international seaport city of San Francisco and had excellent access to media.

This stand at Standing Rock allows me to reinforce the importance of peace, prayers and non violence because it kept us alive during our 18 month occupation of Alcatraz. I was encouraged to meet Dave Archambault and see how humble and strong he is without ego and money motivating him.

Prayers are the power and the news is getting out and around the world despite mainstream media who stays silent to support their corporate sponsors, the backers of this pipeline. The only presidential candidate who came out to support NO DAPL was Jill Stein.  I would like to see more support from President Obama and do what Nixon did for Alcatraz.  Nixon suspended Termination of states rights of jurisdiction over tribes. Obama could suspend not only the right of corporations to exploit federal lands but also include state and private lands. He could leave his presidency in honor.

It’s been an exciting and historic unification of thousands of people and hundreds of tribes who are peacefully standing strong with the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe against the Dakota Access Pipe Line because this threatens all life. We can SEIZE the national agenda like we did with Alcatraz. This stopped termination of Indian tribes while initiating dozens of other laws for our people with funding.

With unity, understanding and support from the American people, we can kill the black snake—as the oil line is known! If you can’t get here, support #NoDAPL movement with your prayers!

Water is Life!

Beshiyou and Many Blessings!

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