Opinion

Opinion: Cowboys and Indians unite in fight over Keystone XL





Writer discusses Indian and non-Indian opposition to the controversial Keystone XL Pipeline:
Ever since the encroachment of settlers onto Native lands, many whites and Native Americans have been at odds, whether over water rights, land rights, hunting rights, etc. Settler expansion laid the foundation for the formation of the U.S. nation state to have access to resources and further expand its interest internationally.

Many of those participating in the Cowboy Indian Alliance are fighting to uphold the protections of the Fort Laramie Treaty of 1851 and 1868. The Lakota (Sioux) signed a document with the U.S. government to create the "Great Sioux Reservation," to include all of South Dakota west of the Missouri River, including hunting grounds in Northern Nebraska, North Dakota, Wyoming and Montana. The treaty stated that "no white person or persons shall be permitted to settle upon or occupy any portion of the [territory]; or without the consent of the Indians, first had and obtained, to pass through the same."

The federal government signed the treaty before gold was discovered in the Black Hills in 1871. The Black Hills are the most sacred piece of land to the Lakota. Mining companies disregarded the 1868 treaty and flooded into the area, under the protection of the U.S. Army's 7th Cavalry commanded by Gen. George Armstrong Custer. The U.S. seized the Black Hills and split up the "Great Sioux Reservation" into six smaller reservations in 1877. This culminated with the Wounded Knee Massacre, in which 150 to 300 Lakota men, women and children were slaughtered by the 7th Cavalry.

Get the Story:
Brian Ward: Coming together over KXL (Socialist Worker 3/19)

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