December 6, 2016
By Jay Taber
“I have been working with indigenous leaders for decades and arguing that indigenous nations must take the initiative to take back that which is and always has been theirs: land, resources and freedom to move… Asking for rights from those who have no interest in recognizing those rights is a defeated policy. Taking back your land and resources they stole, as Chief George Manuel urged, is the only alternative to self-destruction.”– Center for World Indigenous Studies chair Rudolph C. Ryser
When reality is too much to bear, we turn to fantasies to keep from losing our mind. When fantasies become our reality, we are liable to believe just about anything.
One fantasy currently circulating online is that Obama halted DAPL because he has strong emotional ties to American Indians. While he has helped tribes with issues like domestic violence and education, his strong financial ties to oil industry investors like Goldman Sachs have created a nightmare for many tribes across the country.
Above: US President Barack Obama (C) talks with Chairman of the Standing Rock Soiux Tribal Nation David Archambault II (L) during the Cannon Ball Flag Day Celebration in Cannon Ball, North Dakota, June 13, 2014. AFP PHOTO / Jim WATSON
Standing Rock could have been avoided, had Obama not approved fracking millions of acres of Bakken Shale in North Dakota. The pipelines and bomb trains emanating from that disastrous decision alone will haunt us for generations. In the Gulf of Mexico, Obama’s executive order waiving environmental restrictions on risky deep-sea oil drilling resulted in the largest oil spill in history.
Above: “US President Barack Obama talks with youth from the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe in the Oval Office of the White House, 2014”
While it is a relief that the stand-off at Standing Rock avoided a showdown, by delaying the pipeline over Christmas, the fact that it progressed to this point without interference from the White House suggests Obama’s interest is in his perceived legacy, since Trump is almost certain to forge ahead with its completion in January.
Meanwhile, oil industry members of the Native American Affairs Coalition advising President Trump propose making Indian Reservations private property. As noted at Reuter’s, “The plan dovetails with Trump’s larger aim of slashing regulation to boost energy production.”
[Jay Thomas Taber is an associate scholar of the Center for World Indigenous Studies, a correspondent to Forum for Global Exchange, and a contributing editor of Fourth World Journal. Since 1994, he has served as communications director at Public Good Project, a volunteer network of researchers, analysts and journalists engaged in defending democracy. As a consultant, he has assisted indigenous peoples in the European Court of Human Rights and at the United Nations.]