Veterans Reinforce Indigenous Frontline
by Nio T.
Dec. 4, 2016 marks the historic day US veterans stood up to rising fascism and police state terror. Veteran warriors from all walks of life joined in solidarity, kindness and love to combat oppression from Morton County ND Sheriff’s deputies and Energy Transfer Partner’s security forces. I came with many veterans wearing ragtag armor, prepared for retaliation by the oppressors.
Veterans marched because we’d sworn to defend the Constitution from enemies foreign and domestic. Marine Corps vet Josleen from Texas said, “I saw the images of dogs biting people and rubber bullets fired on women and children, and I couldn’t believe that this was happening. That’s terrorism. I had to come, it’s part of my duty as a citizen to take action.”
US law allows kids dressed as clowns to be arrested and tried as terrorists, but gives a pass to adults firing grenades at unarmed people. Private security was reinforced by tax-payer dollars in the form of Sheriffs and National Guardsmen from many states. The only reason the state reinforced a private contractor is if the contractor was defending government interests, thereby defining state funded terrorism.
“Yeah, I got PTSD, I can’t help it. I’m ready to fight. The elders say we have to be peaceful or the movement will fail.” Armed with gasmask, goggles and shield, Tsotsié, a young Diné Marine veteran, wants to give the security forces something to remember.
Stand with Standing Rock is an indigenous people’s movement to preserve sacred land and water. What’s hard for some to see is how their fight is also ours. The movement highlights crony government aiding companies with deplorable business ethics, utilizing Federal support of domestic terrorism. The Oceti Sakowin resistance camp divests the illusion of material wealth in favor of human community. The Lakota Sioux, along with other native nations, have fought and resisted colonial assimilation from the European empires, then from the US government, for over 400 years.
Going by corporate news sources, you’d surmise that the ‘Indians are at it again,’ and scoff at axioms such as “Water is Life,” or “Protect the Sacred.” The US public’s relation to the indigenous tribes are so disconnected that many believe that they are extinct, and their spiritual practices are myths. The truth is we are very much alive, and continue to practice our traditions that have been part of this land for thousands of years.
US History teaches, as part of the academic-industrial complex, that Columbus discovered this land, when in fact hundreds of millions of residents established trading routes and hunting grounds well before the Spanish Empire was even a dream.
“They beat people with their clubs, in the face, trying to hurt them. One girl’s face was stomped-on so badly she can no longer see from one eye. They came into our RV’s and tents and shot us with their rubber bullets and beat us and some even had concussion grenades thrown in.” So explained a young caucasian woman from Denver, remaining anonymous.
I asked why she was there. “I believe in the protection of our environment and indigenous people’s sacred lands. There has been a human rights violation here and no one is watching, no one is stopping it, I had to come help,” she said.
Media outlets had arrived for a photo opportunity and to re-hash the story about the cost of the pipeline, painting the picture of a simple environmental action. Morton County Sheriff Kirchmeier stated on NBC that, “The officers showed great restraint..” and that protestors were “provoking action.” The reporter didn’t question the sheriff’s brutal tactics, fabricating an illusion that they have a meaningful cause for their violence.
I asked over 15 US journalist from news outlets like the NY Times, Associated Press: “Have you investigated the rumors that the Lakota tribe had time to disagree in court before it came to this?” The reporters had no answers. Upon researching, I found the longest legal battle in US history. The Lakota tribe has been in and out of court since 1851, when the Fort Laramie Treaty was enacted. Over the next 165 years, payments were reneged, titled land was re-purposed under contrived laws, money allotted for the tribe was stolen by traders as imaginary debt payment, and in 1890 the massacre at Wounded Knee occurred; 23 US soldiers won the congressional medal of honor for killing women and children in the name of profit.
Fighting in court up to this time has been useless. The original people of this land are viewed legally as prisoners of war, allowing the Federal government to use indigenous land as they see fit. Yet Native people are tax paying, US citizens, economically the poorest citizens living in the country. The Lakotas’ continuing battle is the example of how the US government has the ability to spin laws and win support for violence against people at any time for any reason. This is unconstitutional; as veterans we have sworn to uphold and defend the Constitution… so we stand with Standing Rock.