I debated about writing this letter until I got the ad for the purchase of a “fully-functional Ruger Super Blackhawk .44 Magnum” in my morning paper. Is this how we make America great again? When were we great? Was it when we brought captive Africans to our shores for slaves? Was it when we wrote that “all men are created equal,” except for non-whites, women, or even “white” men who did not own property? Was it when for the purpose of increasing representatives to the House in Washington we agreed to count slaves as three-fourths of a person? Was is when the native peoples of this country were repeatedly driven from their treaty-designated lands if those lands became desirable by white men? Was it when women were denied entry in medical schools, law schools, fired as teachers if they married, and couldn’t vote? Was it when Jewish and non-white people couldn’t live in certain areas? Was it when American citizens were harassed, tortured and hanged for not being white, Anglo-Saxon Protestants? Was it when American citizens of Japanese descent where taken from their homes and placed in internment camps? Was it when people of different racial backgrounds could not legally fall in love and get married in certain states? Was it when we retaliated against Iraq when we knew they were not responsible for 9/11?
Please, is this where we place our pride and greatness? And should I, with no background check, be able to buy a fully functional, gold-plated gun covered in “patriotic” symbols as a symbol of that pride?
As someone who considers herself an ally to indigenous people, I was elated at the chance to take actions to stand with the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe against the Dakota Access Pipeline. I have written and called the White House, written to Energy Transfer Partners and more. I encourage readers to do the same.
I organized a protest, too, but I was the only one who signed up to showed up. I proudly represented myself as an “army of one.”
On Facebook and in the physical world, I have noticed a lot of support, but also a lot of silence from non-native people on this issue. Perhaps others have not been waiting, like I have been waiting, to take a stand in an indigenous-led movement.
Let me take you back to 1863, when the United States started laying the railroad. Back then, the United States looked different than it looks now, and many Native Americans opposed the railroad through their lands. The railroad destroyed their way of life, and land was taken from them for the public gain of Americans.
I don’t want the issue of pipelines to become another tragedy in a series of tragedies in Native American history. We may love our railroad now, but Native nations, which are sovereign nations, had to adapt, like they always do. We cannot keep asking them to adapt to our desires — especially now, when their water, and the water of millions of people downstream, is at stake.
The Standing Rock Sioux Tribe has made it very clear that they oppose the pipeline. They have the backing of some 200 other tribal nations at this time. No means no, and we should respect their wishes.
I encourage everyone to take a stand with Standing Rock today. You’ll be proud you did.