Essay #3. Standing Rock, Racism, and Greed at its Best
I support the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe’s right to protect their water today, tomorrow and fifty years down the road. However, make no doubt about it. This is racism and greed at its best, or should I say, at its worst. When Bismarck, the Capitol of North Dakota told Energy Transfer Partners to go build their pipeline somewhere else, because the venture would jeopardize the integrity of their drinking water, the Texas oil company re-routed. Here’s why Bismarck could make such a demand; The racial makeup of the Bismarck is 92.4% White, 0.7% African American, 4.5% Native American, 0.6% Asian, 0.3% from other races, and 1.5% from two or more races. Hispanic or Latino of any race was 1.3% of the population (Wikipedia). Here’s why Energy Transfer could not give a damn about the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe making the same request as the citizens in and around Bismarck. 4,044 – Total Population on Standing Rock Reservation (ND side only) [Census 2000]; 3,492 or 84.1% – American Indians on Standing Rock Reservation (ND side only) [Census 2010]. The perfect storm for white greed = a small number of people of color + the possibility of white people making a profit + media control = we will do whatever we have to do to take this from you. This has been a trait throughout the history of this country. This country has made and broken over 500 treaties with Native Tribes.
I’m not going to make this a history lesson about the relationship between America and the Indian Nations. That’s because it can be summed up simply as lies, betrayal and greed covered up by another lie. For the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe this is about honor. For in the history of every downtrodden people, there comes a time when they must stand, sit, sing and scream in order to be heard. They must fight against the wealth of the white man and the deaf ears of a nation turned against them. They must understand, this fight will be forever, because the soul of the wealthy was long ago replaced by the glitter of gold. The brightness of gold blinds the eyes; and man can no longer see the needs of our fellow man.
In 1980 John Trudell, a Santee Sioux said, “We must go beyond the arrogance of human rights. We must go beyond the ignorance of civil rights. We must step into the reality of natural rights because all the natural world has a right to existence. We are only a small part of it. There can be no trade-off.” For a while I couldn’t get into what he was saying and then it hit me. One man should never have to fight another man, for human rights or civil rights. It truly goes against the natural order of the human experience. When the rights of man interfere with the profits of corporations and the skin color of the man fighting for his rights is darker than the man from the corporation, Most of the time the outcome has nothing to do with what’s right.
Because one race of people owns the media, they have been able to keep the details of what is really happening at Standing Rock out of the mainstream. They show only what benefits them. They only report what is sensational and brings ratings. For those in the media who aren’t under the control of the very people who would profit from this pipeline, this situation just isn’t sexy enough, or violent enough. The reason it isn’t sexy or violent enough is because the Sioux Tribes are trying to protest peacefully. They are trying to appeal to the common sense of the people of this country. But common sense isn’t and hasn’t ever been common when race and profits are on the opposite sides of the table. But despite the results of the elections several weeks ago, I have to believe, most people, if they knew the details of Standing Rock, would not approve. Again, this is about rich folks making themselves richer, by trying to bully those with the least power. However, regardless of Energy Transfer Partners and their cronies’ efforts to suppress the truth, everyday more and more people are discovering the lies and injustices being perpetrated at Standing Rock.