Adonis Diaries

Posts Tagged ‘Keystone XL Pipeline

How to give the land back? Is America’s brutality toward Native Americans continuing today?

, associate professor of English, posted this Feb. 17, 2014

Americans have unjustly taken vast tracts of land. This Presidents’ Day, let’s uphold our treaties and return it

I write often about liberating Palestine from Israeli occupation, a habit that evokes passionate response.

I have yet to encounter a response that persuades me to abandon the commitment to Palestinian liberation.

We must give the land back: America's brutality toward Native Americans continues today
Sioux Indians, six of whom were present at the Battle of Little Big Horn, gather in Custer State Park in the Black Hills area of Custer, S.D. on Sept. 2, 1948. (Credit: AP)

I have, however, encountered responses that I consider worthy of close assessment, particularly those that transport questions of colonization to the North American continent. You see, there is a particular defense of Zionism that precedes the existence of Israel by hundreds of years.

Here is a rough sketch of that defense: Allowing a Palestinian right of return or redressing the ethnic cleansing of Palestinians in 1947-49 is ludicrous. Look what happened to the Native Americans.

Is the United States supposed to return the country to them?

Israeli historian Benny Morris puts it this way: “Even the great American democracy couldn’t come to be without the forced extinction of Native Americans. There are times the overall, final good justifies terrible, cruedeeds.”

This reasoning suggests a finality to the past, an affirmation of tragedy trapped in the immutability of linear time. Its logic is terribly cliché, a peculiar form of common sense always taken up, everywhere, by the beneficiaries of colonial power.

The problems with invoking Native American genocide to rationalize Palestinian dispossession are legion.

The most noteworthy problem speaks to the unresolved detritus of American history: Natives aren’t objects of the past; they are living communities whose numbers are growing.

It’s rarely a good idea to ask rhetorical questions that have literal answers.

Yes, the United States absolutely should return stolen land to the Indians. That’s precisely what its treaty obligations require it to do.

The United States is a settler nation, but its history hasn’t been settled.

Yet most people invoke Natives as if they lost a contest that entrapped them in the past — and this only if Natives are considered at all. As a result, most analyses of both domestic and foreign policies are inadequate, lacking a necessary context of continued colonization and resistance.

For Natives, political aspirations aren’t focused on accessing the mythologies of a multicultural America, but on the practices of sovereignty and self-determination, consecrated in treaty agreements (and, of course, in their actual histories).

Treaties aren’t guidelines or suggestions; they are nation-to-nation agreements whose stipulations exist in perpetuity.

That the federal government still ignores so many of those agreements indicates that colonization is not simply an American memo

One of the most famous violations is the Treaty of Fort Laramie (1851, 1868), which guaranteed the Lakota possession of the Black Hills. The American government seized the Black Hills 9 years after signing the treaty, in 1877, having discovered sizable deposits of gold and other precious minerals.

In 1980, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled that the federal government had unjustly appropriated the Black Hills (the ruling doesn’t use the word “stolen,” but it’s an accurate descriptor of what occurred). The Court awarded the Lakota $15.5 million (now well over $100 million with inflation) for the adjusted value of the appropriated land, but the tribe has consistently refused the monetary settlement, preferring instead to retain entitlement to its historic territory.

To clarify: Vast portions of 5 U.S. states — North Dakota, South Dakota, Nebraska, Wyoming and Montana — are Indian land according to a treaty to which the American government voluntarily assented.

The highest legal authority in the United States has acknowledged that a significant portion of the land in question is rightfully Lakota. The American government refuses to return that land.

Let’s therefore drop the quaint notion that the colonization of Natives is a tragedy limited to the days of yore.

A comparable example of continuing U.S. colonization (unfortunately, this could go on a while) exists in Hawaii, the youngest American state. Hawaii became an American possession in 1893 due to a coup d’état led by colonist Sanford Dole, cousin of James Dole, who, not so coincidentally, made a fortune growing produce on the islands.

President Grover Cleveland commissioned an investigation into the overthrow of the Hawaiian monarchy, led by Georgia congressman James Henderson Blount. The Blount Report condemned the annexation of Hawaii. The condemnation ultimately did no good. American businessmen and politicians saw too much value in the new property to constrain their avarice. To this day, the Kanaka Maoli (Native Hawaiians) do not recognize the legitimacy of the annexation and consider themselves subjects of foreign rule.

(For an excellent analysis of these matters, please read J. Kēhaulani Kauanui’s “Hawaiian Blood: Colonialism and the Politics of Sovereignty and Indigeneity.”)

While American tourists enjoy hula dances and Mai Tais on stolen land, the Kanaka Maoli, victims of a conquest that in no way has passed, continue to organize for liberation.

Colonialism is present across North America in less obvious ways, though the lack of obviousness doesn’t mitigate its relevance.

Corporate malfeasance is especially harmful to indigenous communities in the Americas (and across the world).

Native nations have dealt with an uninterrupted expropriation of resources for over a century and now experience an inordinate amount of disease and pollution.

At present, Natives and their allies in both Canada and the U.S. are working to stop the Keystone XL Pipeline, a project that portends environmental damage and serious health concerns.

Natives have encountered violence in attempting to exercise their hunting and fishing rights. (Does the phrase “save a fish, spear an Indian” ring a bell?) Police brutality is acute in Indian Country.

Natives, women especially, are murdered at an epidemic rate, with the majority of cases unresolved. And many communities are still waiting on various institutions to comply with federal legislation requiring the return of artifacts and human remains to their rightful owners.

Nor should we forget that the forced sterilization of Native women and the kidnapping of children to be educated (read: brutally assimilated) in government boarding schools, where many were sexually molested and subject to countless other abuses, were still happening within the past half-century.

The inveterate omission of these realities in analyses of American politics constitutes an erasure of indigenous histories and illuminates why it is so easy to conceptualize the United States as historically settled. If we recall the existence of dynamic Indian nations, though, we have no choice but to rethink the commonplaces of American virtue.

It is a foolish conceit to suggest that history has ended in the United States.

No amount of ignorance (willful or unwitting) will invalidate the vigorous efforts to decolonize the North and South American continents.

When Israel’s apologists invoke the dispossession of living communities on those continents as a rationale for colonizing Palestine, they betray a profound disdain of indigenous humanity, the sort of contempt that renders the oppressor’s psyche so unsettled.

The truth about the UNITED STATES, LAW & YOU… YOU NEED TO WATCH THIS!

Sovereign Nations Walk Out of Meeting With U.S. State Department

The State Department, still with “egg on its face” from its statement that Keystone XL would have little impact on climate change, sunk a little lower today as the most respected elders, and chiefs of 10 sovereign nations turned their backs on State Department representatives and walked out during a meeting.

The meeting, which was a failed attempt at a “nation to nation” tribal consultation concerning the Keystone XL Pipeline neglected to address any legitimate concerns being raised by First Nations Leaders (or leading scientific experts for that matter).

Jacob Devaney published in The Blog this May 17, 2013:

Climate Science Watch, The EPA and most people with common sense rebuked the State Department’s initial report and today First Nations sent a very clear message to President Obama and the world concerning the future fate of their land regarding Keystone XL.

Vice president for conservation policy at the National Wildlife Federation Jim Lyon said of the department’s original analysis that it “fails in its review of climate impacts, threats to endangered wildlife like whooping cranes and woodland caribou, and the concerns of tribal communities.”

Today tribal nations added probably the most critical danger of the pipeline which is to the water. Their statement is below:

On this historic day of May 16, 2013, ten sovereign Indigenous nations maintain that the proposed TransCanada/Keystone XL pipeline does not serve the national interest and in fact would be detrimental not only to the collected sovereigns but all future generations on planet earth. This morning the following sovereigns informed the Department of State Tribal Consultation effort at the Hilton Garden Inn in Rapid City, SD, that the gathering was not recognized as a valid consultation on a “nation to nation” level: Southern Ponca Pawnee Nation Nez Perce Nation, Oceti Sakowin (Seven Council Fires People), Sisseton-Wahpeton Oyate Ihanktonwan Dakota (Yankton Sioux), Rosebud Sioux Tribe, Oglala Sioux Tribe, Standing Rock Tribe, Lower Brule Sioux Tribe, Cheyenne River Sioux Tribe, and Crow Creek Sioux Tribe

The Great Plains Tribal Chairmans Association supports this position, which is in solidarity with elected leaders, Treaty Councils and the grassroots community, and is guided by spiritual leaders.

On Saturday, May 18, the Sacred Pipe Bundle of the Oceti Sakowin will be brought out to pray with the people to stop the KXL pipeline, and other tribal nation prayer circles will gather to do the same.

Pursuant to Executive Order 13175, the above sovereigns directed the DOS to invite President Obama to engage in “true Nation to Nation” consultation with them at the nearest date, at a designated location to be communicated by each of the above sovereigns.

After delivering that message, the large contingent of tribal people walked out of the DOS meeting and asked the other tribal people present to support this effort and to leave the meeting.

Eventually all remaining tribal representatives and Tribal Historic Preservation Officers left the meeting at the direct urging of the grassroots organization Owe Aku. Owe Aku, Moccasins on the Ground, and Protect the Sacred are preparing communities to resist the Keystone XL pipeline through Keystone Blockade Training.

This unprecedented unity of tribes against the desecration of Ina Maka (Mother Earth) was motivated by the signing on January 25, 2013, of the historic International Treaty to Protect the Sacred Against the Tar Sands. Signatories were the Pawnee Nation, the Ponca Nation, the Ihanktonwan Dakota and the Oglala Lakota. Since then ten First Nations Chiefs in Canada have signed the Treaty to protect themselves against tar sands development in Canada.

The above sovereigns notify President Obama to consult with each of them because of the following:

The nations have had no direct role in identifying and evaluating cultural resources.

The nations question the status of the programmatic agreement and how it may or may not be amended.

The nations are deeply concerned about potential pipeline impacts on natural resources, especially our water: potential spills and leaks, groundwater and surface water contamination.

The nations have no desire to contribute to climate change, to which the pipeline will directly contribute.

The nations recognize that the pipeline will increase environmental injustice, disproportionately impacting native communities.

The nations deplore the environmental impacts of tar sands mining being endured by tribes in Canada. The pipeline would service the tar sands extractive industry.

The nations insist that their treaty rights be respected⎯the pipeline would violate them.

The nations support an energy policy that promotes renewables and efficiency instead of one that features fossil fuels.

The nations regard the consultation process as flawed in favor of corporate interests.

The sovereigns of these nations contend that it is not in America’s interest to facilitate and contribute to environmental devastation on the scale caused by the extraction of tar sands in Canada.

America would be better served by a comprehensive program to reduce its reliance on oil, and to invest in the development and deployment of sustainable energy technologies, such as electric vehicles that are charged using solar and wind power.

If the Keystone XL pipeline is allowed to be built, TransCanada, a Canadian corporation, would be occupying sacred treaty lands as reserved in the 1851 and 1868 Fort Laramie Treaties. It will be stopped by unified resistance.

To sanctify their solidarity with The Lubicon Lake First Nation of Canada, who are the traditional stewards of the land that 70% of the tar sands oil sit on, along with tribes across Canada and The United States, Chief Arvol Lookinghorse has called for a day of prayer everywhere on May 18, 2013. Chief Lookinghorse, The 19th Generation Keeper of The Sacred White Buffalo Bundle, has stated,

“I am asking ‘All Nations, All Faiths, One Prayer’ to help us during this time of this gathering by praying with us on this day wherever you are upon Mother Earth. We need to stop the desecration that is hurting Mother Earth and the communities. These recent spills of oil are affecting the blood of Mother Earth; Mni wic’oni (water of life).”

Gatherings are being planned all over the world in solidarity during the weekend including one outside the UN at Isaiah’s Wall in NYC today, May 17th at noon EST.

We all know that we are living in unprecedented times.

We just surpassed 400ppm CO2 in the atmosphere for the first time in 10 million years, the planet is warming and we humans must bear the responsibility of our actions and their effects on the environment.

What we do, and what we don’t do will effect the generations to follow. A better world is possible.

Note: On May 23, the US House voted and passed the Keystone XL Pipeline. US short history repeats itself: No sovereign State or any independent power is to stand in the interest of the financial oligarchy.


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