Letter: The symbolism and reality of Standing Rock
Thank you, Standing Rock natives, for resisting the Dakota Access Pipeline. Your struggle with big oil exposes the best and the worst of this nation. It’s clear that these oily corporations simply want everyone to flee the violence, but thankfully your tribe just doesn’t want to “go gentle into that good night.”
Since the North Dakota bonanza began, oil producers have reportedly spilled over 18 million gallons of chemicals. Their worker safety record is reminiscent of the third world and the state’s business indemnification laws are a scandal. The Republican governor of this ”business friendly” state also very conveniently heads a special three-person committee overseeing reparations for spills throughout his state. The natives’ situation is plainly déjà vu as the incestuous relationship between money and power subdues the vulnerable unarmed tribe.
The people I spoke with at the encampment are completely aware that they are being thrown under the bus just like the city of Flint, Michigan, where the drinking water was poisoned. They also understand American law and history quite well; it’s the militarized security workers who can’t seem to remember either one. A hopeful sign, however, is that so many of the people participating with the natives’ struggle are now white.
Last week in the Aspen Daily News, a reader suggested that the Standing Rock Water Protectors were simply trespassers breaking the law. I was stunned by that position’s naïveté and could only conclude that this reader comes from a different country: Many prominent American officials publicly recognize that during World Ward II the Warsaw ghetto Jews were absolutely justified in resisting government authorities. Standing Rock has much in common with Warsaw as the natives are faced with choosing destruction by poison or by violence.
The pipeline syndicate is taking advantage of the little known Christian Doctrine of Discovery law, which is a foundational part of eminent domain. In the mid 1800s a few men in the federal government began applying church law to legally bludgeon and strip the heathen Native Americans of land that white businesses coveted. Standing Rock is a symbol exposing to people everywhere that now is the time to defy this country’s public policy of white Christian supremacy, which is so celebrated by the Klu Klux Klan. On Nov. 3, more than 500 white clergy from around the world led the confrontation against North Dakota’s militarized roadblock and denounced the continuing use of the Christian Doctrine of Discovery. They then ceremonially burned copies of the 600-year-old Roman Catholic legal documents.
J. Ross Douglass
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