COMMENTARY: News from Indian Country and a political statement issue
Observations and random thoughts. Volume 12.1
By WILLIAM LEDFORD
The NFL season has kicked off, the Cowboys and Browns still suck as usual, the Raiders looked darn good against the Saints, the Patsys might be OK during Brady’s 4-game absence and nobody should care because the Packers are gonna go to the Super Bowl.
The Lakota Nation from the Standing Rock Reservation, better known to white America as the Standing Rock Sioux, are committed to stopping the construction of the Dakota Access Pipeline and have erected a camp directly in its path. It was briefly in the news when armed security released trained dogs and hosed protesters with pepper spray when it was discovered that during legal proceedings work had quietly been going on, land with burial markings and other monuments on sacred land has been bulldozed over. The guards defended their actions say that they were attacked. Same old, same old.
EBCI has committed $50,000 to the Standing Rock defense fund to assist in the legal fight. It gladdens my heart to see us join in. Native Nations have contributed funds and tribal representatives have camped there and physically joined the protest. One of our council representatives said, “sounds like a lot but if you’re in a legal battle it’s not”. I agree. In reality that $50,000 maybe pays for one hour of one attorney’s time. More help is needed, both financial and physical. We need to unify because even though we love to drive our cars and trucks that Canadian tar sand oil will have to find some other way to get from Canada to Louisiana. Perhaps some of our people would like to become active and see the world, North Dakota awaits. I’ll say this though, I’ve been there, it’s kinda cold, dress warm.
More pipeline. According to the contractor’s statements this pipeline will be installed under natural features including the Missouri River. Realspeak: that means a large area in the alignment will be cleared away of vegetation, a deep trench will be excavated and benched for the pipeline to be installed, the river will be dammed, the area dewatered and then excavated. Having been an inspector on a similar water project in Albuquerque I’ve seen the process performed in the Rio Grande River. A large, deep trench was excavated in two stages for twin 54” pipelines to be installed under the riverbed to channel treated river water to storage facilities on the west side of the city. Water being channeled under a river is one thing, massive volumes of crude oil channeled is another. The oil and gas industry, no matter what the PR ads say on TV, does not have a very good track record when it comes to leaks and spills. As a side note I do not drink the tap water here anymore.
Also not in the mainstream media-A sacred mountain in Lakota Country once known as Harney Peak has been renamed Black Elk Peak. Finally. General William Harney was an old-school career military man who was not above murdering women and children during his service during the “Indian Wars.” As usual white folks bemoan this change while Native people rejoice. The renaming of this mountain peak was long overdue as is the return of the Black Hills to the Lakota. Now it’s time to stop insulting us and rename Jackson County.
The news has splashed Colin Kapernick, QB of the NFL San Francisco 49ers, all over the front pages and lead-in stories due to his stance, or non-stance during the playing of the national anthem. He’s been taking a knee during the anthem as a silent protest to the mistreatment of Blackskins and other people of color. Other NFL players are joining him. Naturally, many Whiteskins see it as a slap in the face to military veterans. Many minorities do not have an issue with his statement. This is my country and no matter what the anthropologists and archaeologists believe, has always been my country and no one loves it more than me. Should we march in lockstep because others say we should or should we be free to love our country but not particularly the symbols, the anthems, pledges, flags, etc., to prove or justify? How many of you anti-Kapernick people reading this right now, actually stand up in your living room during the anthem ritual while you’re watching the game on TV? Yeah, that’s what I thought.
And finally, here’s my ritual. An oldie but goodie. Enjoy. “Women will never be equal to men until they can walk down the street with a bald head and a beer gut, and still think they are sexy.” Sorry man, I couldn’t find anyone to credit this to.
Ledford is an EBCI tribal member currently living in Albuquerque, NM.