DAPL is Our Generation’s Wounded Knee
DAPL: Our Generation's Wounded Knee
Photo Credit: Joe Brusky on flickr

This is our generation’s Wounded Knee. This time the cavalry is riding in on unarmed Elders and children with assault rifles, armored vehicles, and ‘sound cannons’. They are defending land granted them by treaties with the US government and the waters that make that land livable. They are protecting identified sacred sites and the resting places of their ancestors. Police and private security are beating them, stripping them naked in the freezing cold of North Dakota, locking them in kennels like animals, and then destroying their property. This is not Abu Ghraib; this is Bismark. These ‘public servants’ are firing on horse and rider alike. They are defending themselves with prayer. Our government has politely asked construction to take a time out, yet these militarized forces continue to escalate the violence, like a spoiled toddler relentlessly throwing their toys at others simply because they’re not getting their way.

This level of response is unconscionable. The state of North Dakota has effectively declared war against a sovereign people, invaded and laid siege to their lands with the intent of protecting corporate interests at the expense of human lives. Pipelines leak. One of the worst on record happened in North Dakota when a 2013 lightning strike dumped 840,000 gallons of crude oil into a wheat field. Screws fall out all the time; it’s an imperfect world and accidents happen. Just ask BP about ‘unintended consequences’. These concerns are valid.

Racism is a factor in this. If you take race out of this story, would this behavior be acceptable? If unarmed whites were defending their land, their water rights, and the cemeteries of their grandparents from paramilitary forces how would we respond? The National Guard would likely be called up to defend these people and to put a stop to the violence. We would see their brave resistance against incredible odds on the nightly news. All major news networks would be on the scene, barraging us with 911-style, wall-to-wall coverage until the valiant struggle was resolved. There would be a ticker on the bottom of the screen for sending donations and relief. If race were not involved, these invaders would have been stopped, arrested, and prosecuted. Instead, the National Guard was mobilized to attack these unarmed civilians and unless a celebrity is arrested this story rarely makes the evening news. There is not one major network camped out with the protectors.

The acquittal of the whites responsible for the armed takeover of Oregon’s Malheur National Wildlife Refuge proves this point beyond doubt. How long was that on the news? How many of them were beaten, shot, or stripped naked? How many armored vehicles, how much ammunition and how many tax dollars were expended to bring them in? How many attack dogs and sound cannons were deployed to drive these people from land they took by force in direct action against the government? These were armed men. They threatened to kill police. They seized public land in an armed assault. These were not unarmed people protecting their land and water.   They were armed white men who fired on police. The stark contrast between the two stories is evidence that, just as in Ferguson, race affects the level of force police utilize in different parts of the country regardless of threat level.

This is our generation’s Wounded Knee. History is repeating itself right before our eyes. It is our chance to stop the violence. We can choose to turn a blind eye and let these atrocities be literally bulldozed over or we can call on those responsible to put an end to these vicious attacks. We can compel our elected representatives to denounce the violence and demand they perform their civic duty and serve the people. We can send material and financial support to one of the most impoverished groups of people in our nation as they stand up to corporate greed and military hardware with only their bodies, faith, and prayer. We can withdraw financial support from those entities who are funding this war on indigenous peoples, specifically Wells Fargo, Bank of America, JP Morgan Chase, US Bank, and the list goes on. We can stop stealing the land of a people against which we have historically perpetrated a mass genocide. We can put an end to this story and begin telling a new one where we stop taking from these people, where we begin to address the grievous wrongs perpetrated on their ancestors.

Or, we can dig those ancestors up, imprison their youth, treat people like animals, and drive them from their land. Again. The stain of blood is already upon us all America. How much fresh blood must be spilled before we change our ways? To do nothing is to be complicit in completing the extinction of a people by ignoring our own American holocaust as it unfolds right now in North Dakota. The time has come to make a choice. You can pretend this is so far away or that there is nothing you can do but it is just not true. You can make a call, donate a dollar, or pack a bag and head to the front line to stand beside them. Don’t let this happen again. You can put a stop to this. You all can. But we must act today.

How to Support Standing Rock

Sacred Stone Camp:
Legal fund https://fundrazr.com/d19fAf
Camp fund https://www.gofundme.com/sacredstonecamp

Red Warrior Camp
Winterizing fund https://www.gofundme.com/redwarriorcamp
Legal fund https://www.generosity.com/fundraising/red-warrior-camp-legal-fund-nodapl

Official Standing Rock Sioux Tribe

Medic and Healer Council

Red Owl Legal Collective

How to contact your elected officials;

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