Looking for some novel way to become even less popular in your "progressive community"? Try being critical of the Standing Rock Sioux. On Sept. 13 I wrote:"I fear No DAPL is a step backwards (from Breakfree) to localized NIMBY actions with mixed messaging and no mention of systemic change. A movement that lurches from action camp to action camp, re-acting to each new fossil fuel proposal, is not building momentum."
I will be the first to admit I totally underestimated the ability of Standing Rock to draw crowds. The allure is a fascinating subject for another day. I will also admit there has been of late some messaging around systemic change, but it exists in direct tension with the main narratives around Water and Sovereignty. That said, taking the announcement by the Army Corp that they will consider re-routing the pipe as a victory affirms my earlier opinion. By not thinking strategically and playing by Regulatory State rules (EIS), the tribal leadership boxed themselves into a corner and all that time, money and effort will result in a moved pipe full of poisonous bitumen.These are things I can only say on this obscure unread blog because white sympathy, Trump trauma, etc. etc.
In his statement Sioux spokesperson Dave Archambault said they took their "stand against the pipeline in the name of protecting our water. We are not opposed to energy independence...and economic development." They made a huge point of not being labeled protesters, as though they had transcended mere protest, as though ceremony and prayer were far superior to political action, and all their white allies went along, "listening" for ancient wisdom and hoping the "deeper connection" to Mother Nature might somehow rub off. Springsteen and Neil Young and all the other green celebs can parachute in for some connection and the vets can show up for protection but where are they when black lives need some of that juice?
This also morphed into a struggle over sovereignty and autonomy and disputed treaty obligations. Muddy territory on numerous levels. Did the white man conquer the aboriginal nations or did they reach a settlement? Do Natives want all the "un-ceded" land back, and will that happen through the courts? You can look up maps from the 1851 and 1864 treaties (Fort Laramie) and you can walk the Dakotas looking for "sacred sites" but mostly what you will find is shopping malls and fast food franchises, churches and liquor stores, Cabellas outlets and truckstops. And wind. Lots of wind.
Dallas Goldtooth of the Indigenous Environmental Network also took on a spokesperson role (through some process?) and he tried to straddle the divide between moderate tribal leadership and more radical elements, saying: "We cannot stop until this pipeline is completely and utterly defeated and our water AND CLIMATE are safe." Tom Goldtooth (unclear if this is same as Dallas?) is unafraid to mention capitalism and system change but Archambault said everybody could "return home". The giddy progressive media, desperate for SOME good news, used phrases like "overcome one of the most powerful political and economic forces in the world" and claimed the Standing Rock Sioux "got the justice they deserved." But Canadian PM Trudeau just OK'd the Kinder Morgan pipeline to the BC coast and expansion of the Enbridge Line 3 to US midwest. So the hydra just keeps growing new snakes. Shouldn't we be trying to cut off the head?