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)

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