Standing Rock was in the end a waiting game, the outcome predictable based on five plus centuries of history and the attrition of time as it played out over a matter of months.
Two things among others contributed to the end of the protest at Standing Rock – the first were the repeated calls by tribal leadership to stand down that ultimately marginalized the water protectors and secondly the fact that Donald Trump assumed the reins of power.
It was obvious from the moment Trump became president elect that any strategy advanced by any tribal leadership of discussions with the then to be administration had about as much chance of succeeding as a snowball in hell.
Referencing any part of the area involved as being “army corp of engineers” land as the tribal government of Standing Rock did stood in direct contradiction to claims of sovereignty, treaty rights, and ultimately could only have served to further undermine the effort – you cannot wave a treaty in one hand and a do not trespass on ACE land press release in the other.
With Trump taking the oath of office and the predictable dysfunction that would and has ensued other issues gained national and global prominence – valid issues that inundated the media and sparked massive protests that will hopefully be sustained.
So where do the nations go from here? An obvious question that I don’t believe has obvious answers.
One thing for sure though is that the unity among the nations that existed at Standing Rock must be maintained – this isn’t a time for tribalism, business as usual, or individuals with their own agendas.
During wounded knee 2 a well known liberal politician by the name of George McGovern stated that there are no sovereign nations within the U.S.
A belief if expressed then by a man known for his liberal ideology could only be amplified by a conservative party that controls the three branches of government.
Add a Supreme Court appointee or two to the equation and the picture incrementally darkens.
The future of our nations depends on a return to the traditions we once held – not the commercialization of them, nor allowing others to make them up as we go along, rather embracing them as an encompassing communal lifestyle.
Then and only then can we truly negotiate on a “nation to nation” basis – failing to do so and we are reduced to playing their game and references to our land as Army Corp of Engineers land.
If we must continue with a form of tribal government modeled after the very one we have historically struggled against then those we initially elect should be tradition based elders – those who will serve if called upon but have no thought of making it a career or ambitions to that end.
Every individual in this country has an inherent right to clean water, environmentally compatible renewable energy, clean air, the ability to sustain themselves, and to be secure in their own homes and communities – as has been said “sovereignty begins with feeding yourself”.
As a people we should prioritize our ability to do so – in that strength and independence will be a byproduct.
As a people we may not be able to clean the national or global environment but it is within our ability to clean and maintain our communities, and in doing so provide a model for others.
We cannot speak of a love and respect for our mother then do otherwise and expect to be taken seriously.
We continue to be viewed as the “ndn problem”, and the responses to the perception of being a problem will be predicated upon who holds power in Washington.
In the best of times we have been an after thought or a campaign photo op, what we face now history will not record as the best of anything.
Stand with Standing Rock, but also stand in equal measure for your community, your land, your people, regardless of the nation you belong to.
And if we are to believe you can’t arrest a movement or a “spiritual revolution” we should also believe such things cannot be used for self promotion and dreams of holding elected office.
In the final days only the diehards, only the most committed remained, in essence left to their own devices as their numbers declined from thousands to a relative mere handful……. and that is a sad commentary.
Standing Rock was a seminal moment in time, a moment that will be passed down in our oral history.
In the passage of time elements will be added and deleted in the recounting as is the way of such things, but the overriding truth is that in the twenty first century, an age of technology, greed, and Meism a gathering of the nations occurred to raise their voice not just for our people but for all people, and that truth will remain just as we as indigenous people have.
And so again I say I have nothing but gratitude and respect for the veterans who saw a wrong and would not look away much the same as I do for all who raised their voice nationally, in this hemisphere, and across the globe.