Charles Trimble: Water protectors need more than our prayers

Water cannons were among the weapons used by law enforcement in North Dakota on November 20, 2016. Photo by Rob Wilson [GoFundMe]

Water protectors at Standing Rock
By Charles "Chuck" Trimble

As a fan of President Barack Obama, I am at a loss to even guess why he or anyone in his Administration are not speaking out against the outrages being committed against the people who within their Constitutional rights are demonstrating against the Dakota Access Pipeline that is being trenched across North Dakota, engorging pristine prairie lands, traditional homelands of the Dakota, Mandan, Hidatsa and Arikara peoples.

Or why is he not taking action through the Justice Department to put a stop to these inhumane actions, such as indiscriminately turning the water cannons on the demonstrators, leaving them drenched in freezing weather?

These crimes against humanity are presages of what is to come in the Administration of Donald Trump, a mere seven weeks away. If President Obama, a proven friend of the Indian nations, won’t do anything, will these peaceful demonstrators – these selfless protectors of Mother Earth – be fired upon with weapons far more devastating than Hotchkiss Cannons that tore apart bodies of those killed at Wounded Knee in 1890?

It is true that the demonstrators can call it quits and return to the warmth of their homes and enjoy the holidays. But they are committed to making a statement for all mankind and inspiring good people the world over that action is required to stop the abuse of Makoce Ina’, Mother Earth, and the polluting of life-sustaining waters that flow from her. These are courageous men and women, warriors all – akicita.

This is the inspiration, the prototype, of action that will be required if or when Sarah “Drill-Baby-Drill” Palin is put in position as Secretary of the Interior, and Russian-favorite General Michael Flynn is in the Pentagon as Defense Secretary, and the Environmental Protection Agency is scrapped by the Trump Administration, as seems now to be a certainty.

If these Protectors survive the continued siege on their village by a well-equipped police/military force far more powerful than the cavalry force that massacred the Lakota and Dakota people at Wounded Knee, and if they survive the brutal winter weather until the January 2017 inauguration of Donald Trump as President and Commander in Chief, will they become the first victims of his reign? Would U.S. military obey orders to slaughter these brave men, women, children and elders while the world looks on, horrified? Will the illegal “militia” – the “Second Amendment folks” that Trump has encouraged muster their thousands of ersatz soldiers to rescue American oil and industrial moguls from losing money and white Americans from “marauding savages?”

If these spirited and spiritual women and men at Standing Rock are to hold their ground and fulfill their promise to humanity, they need more than prayers. They need encouragement and material support: warm clothing, blankets and bedding, food, medical supplies; but, mostly, they need money to supply the peaceful protest they have engaged for all mankind against forces of political, military and economic power in their own country and on lands that were stolen from their tribal nations.

I am not aware of any central organization that is collecting funds and needed items for the Protectors, perhaps someone can provide that information. In the meantime, bless you, Protectors; you are appreciated and much loved.

Charles Trimble, Oglala Lakota, was born and raised on the Pine Ridge Indian Reservation in South Dakota, and was principal founder of the American Indian Press Association in 1969 and served as its Executive Director to 1972 when he was elected Executive Director of the National Congress of American Indians. His website is and he can be reached at

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