Guest opinion: Standing Rock — example of ongoing genocide
The situation at Standing Rock finally made waves in major media. Thousands of Native Americans camped out on the plains of North Dakota faced off with a rabid county sheriff with a militarized police force drawing overtime (from other states as well) and a corporately corrupted governor calling in the National Guard to protect private industry.
What took the networks so long? Tyranny, racism and blatant disregard for basic human rights — sounds like a sensational nightly news cocktail to me. Of course, I’m the type of person who likes to call a spade a goddamn shovel. And I call the treatment of Native Americans in this country genocide to this day.
The good (mostly white) people of Bismarck, North Dakota, say they just want everything to go back to the way it was, back to “normal.” Hmm. I bet they have that in common with their Native American neighbors. In this culture, the true facts of our history are distorted. We’re taught that America was “discovered” by courageous men and women who colonized this country and created an independent system of government. As if from raw clay they created an abiding foundation for the future inhabitants of the USA. But the truth is genocide.
The definition of genocide from Merriam-Webster: “The deliberate and systematic destruction of a racial, political or cultural group.”
Today, in the year 2016, the descendants of the original inhabitants of this land are being arrested, maced and shot with rubber bullets and fire hoses for trespassing. On their own land. For protecting their land and water from a poisonous, duplicitous, black snake of an oil company. They call themselves water protectors, (not protestors) and their cause is simply forceful; Water is life. Mni Wiconi.
Last weekend American veterans traveled in droves to North Dakota, to create a wall of protection for the water protectors. American police work to secure an oil pipeline that won’t stop for treaties, scared burial grounds or Jane Fonda, but maybe a wall of American vets could get their attention.
Ex-military showing up to a standoff between militarized cops and unarmed Native Americans; it was anyone’s guess how it would all play out, but wouldn’t it be great if the cops turned coat and started protecting and serving the people? Reminds me of the scene from the movie “Braveheart” when the Irish showed up to the fight, and to the utter shock and horror of the English, sided with the Scots.
What’s happened to the white man? Once upon a time we knew which side to take; we knew that clean air and water are more important than money. We knew that risking lives for the sake of profit is not the way to move forward. We knew that our word was a bond, and that live and let live was more than just a song lyric. We knew when to take a stand against the tyranny we founded this country to escape. Didn’t we?
The whole premise of our Constitution is built on freedom for all, not just for a few wealthy by birth (or as my father-in-law calls them, the lucky sperm club.) We can either stand on the right side of history, the side of the water and land protectors, or we have to admit we have become exactly what our ancestors were fleeing when they landed at Plymouth Rock.
How kismetic that this is happening now at a place called Standing Rock. The water protectors are standing like a rock in the wind, and they are accomplishing their goal. With strength, conviction and the power of social media they will be victorious in the end. How do I know? Because of an old truth that surpasses clan, tribe, or creed. It will all be all right in the end. So, if it is not all right, then it is not the end.
Note: On Sunday, Dec. 4, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers denied Energy Transfer Partners their permit, temporarily halting construction of the pipeline.
Jeannie Perry stands with the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe to stop the Dakota Access pipeline. She lives in Satank and writes a column titled Ps & Qs, http://www.mindyourpsandqsson.com.