Environment | Opinion

Steven Newcomb: Standing Rock Sioux Tribe challenges system of domination






Tribal citizens rally against the Dakota Access Pipeline. Photo from Camp of the Sacred Stones

With its fight against the Dakota Access Pipeline, the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe, is standing up to a system of domination that has been imposed on the original nations, argues Steven Newcomb (Shawnee / Lenape) of the Indigenous Law Institute:
The Hunkpapa Nation (including the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe) is part of the larger Oceti Sakowin (Seven Council Fires of the Teton Nation), sometimes known as “the Great Sioux Nation.” The United States regards the entire geographical area of the Dakota, Lakota, and Nakota (Oceti Sakowin) territory as part of the national territory of the United States.

The United States sees itself as a nation that possesses the territory of original Native nations “in full sovereignty and dominion.” And, as Justice Sandra Day O’Conner said for the U.S. Supreme Court in 1988, in Lyng v. Northwest Indian Cemetery Protective Association regarding the spiritual value original nations place on the land: “Whatever rights the Indians have to the use of the area, however, those rights do not divest the Government of its right to use what is, after all, its land.”

The U.S. argument is that the U.S. government, including the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers can do after all what it wants with land it claims as the national territory of the United States because making such heavy-handed decisions is a prerogative of U.S. “national sovereignty,” which trumps (no political campaign pun intended) “tribal sovereignty.” Jonathon Havercroft’s book Captives of Sovereignty lists a host of political philosophers who have concluded that such “sovereignty” is “an unjust form of domination that limits human freedom.”

Read More from Steven Newcomb:
Steven Newcomb: Standing Rock Sioux Nation vs. the Pipeline (Indian Country Today 8/23)

Related Stories:
Tribes prepare for critical hearing in Dakota Access Pipeline lawsuit (8/22)
Mark Trahant: Pipeline fight highlights power of political organizing (8/22)
Lakota Country Times: Tribes unite to stop Dakota Access Pipeline (8/22)
Vi Waln: Our water system is being threatened by energy pipelines (8/22)
Winona LaDuke: Bigger problems ahead for Dakota Access Pipeline (8/22)
Dallas Goldtooth: Tribes shut out of Dakota Access Pipeline process (8/22)
Native Sun News: Resistance grows against Dakota Access Pipeline (08/18)
Harold Frazier: Obama must put a stop to Dakota Access Pipeline (08/15)
Tribes and Native youth join forces in campaign to stop oil pipeline (08/11)
Democrats embrace tribal sovereignty in platform for convention (07/08)
Dakota Access Pipeline to go underneath tribal burial site in Iowa (06/22)
Native Sun News: Standing Rock Sioux Tribe battles oil pipeline (06/08)
Iowa board approves energy pipeline work amid tribal objections (06/07)
Native Sun News: Tribes score big in fights against energy projects (05/26)
Standing Rock Sioux Tribe seeks halt to construction of pipeline (05/12)
Native Sun News: Youth run 500 miles to protest new oil pipeline (05/11)
Native Sun News: Standing Rock Sioux Tribe aims to stop pipeline (04/27)
Standing Rock Sioux Tribe and Army Corps to discuss oil pipeline (04/26)
Native Sun News: Tribes gaining traction in war against pipelines (04/20)
Brandon Ecoffey: Tribes continue battle against energy pipelines (04/19)
Standing Rock Sioux Tribe sets up sacred camp to oppose pipeline (04/15)
Native Sun News: Tribes organize against Dakota Access Pipeline (04/13)
Native Sun News: Tribes organize against Dakota Access Pipeline (4/13)
Iowa Tribe joins fight against oil pipeline on aboriginal territory (3/24)
Native Sun News: Standing Rock Sioux Tribe battles pipeline plan (3/14)
Native Sun News: Tribes fight another pipeline through Great Plains (07/07)
Meskwaki Tribe opposes oil pipeline through aboriginal territory (03/17)