Opinion

Steven Newcomb: Dakota Access marks growth of imperial American empire






A hearty group of water protectors remains at Oceti Sakowin, which hosts thousands of people as part of the ongoing #NoDAPL movement in North Dakota. Cleanup efforts continue at the site. Photo: Oceti Sakowin Camp

The Dakota Access Pipeline is only the latest incursion on indigenous lands by imperial powers, a history that reaches back more than 500 years. Steven Newcomb (Shawnee / Lenape) of the Indigenous Law Institute looks at the battle facing the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe:
What’s in play at Standing Rock is the life-destroying economics of the American Empire’s imperialism, asserted on the basis of a divine right of domination as revealed in the Bible. This way of thinking led to the 1823 U.S. Supreme Court ruling Johnson v. M’Intosh, a decision which Francis Lieber called the “jus divinum” (“divine law”) of the United States.

In 1954 the U.S. Justice Department, in the U.S. legal brief for Tee-Hit-Indians v. United States, openly avowed the main religious conceptual root of the U.S. federal Indian law and policy system. That conceptual pattern identifies the Christian religious rationale of domination behind the U.S. approval of projects such as the Dakota Access Pipeline.

What pattern of concepts was used by the Justice Department in 1954? The Justice Department used the argument that the “Christian nations of Europe” had “acquired jurisdiction” over the lands of “heathens and infidels.” In other words, the year before I was born, the United States, by means of the Johnson v. M’Intosh ruling, claimed to be the political successor to the assertion of Christian jurisdiction in relation to the lands of heathens and infidels!

This means that the tacit Christian claim of jurisdiction over the lands of heathens and infidels is the basis upon which Congress, in 1958, purported to grant permission to the Army Corps of Engineers to “take,” a section of the Oceti Sakowin Nation territory for the Oahe Dam project. That is the land currently under dispute with regard to the Dakota Access Pipeline.

Read More on the Story:
NoDAPL! Once Again the Chosen People/Promised Land Model Prevails Over Oceti Sakowin Nation (Indian Country Today 2/16)

Another Opinion:
Laughing Coyote: In Defense of Chase Iron Eyes: Honorable and Just (Indian Country Today 2/15)

Forthcoming Federal Register Notice:
Notice of Termination of the Intent to Prepare an Environmental Impact Statement in Connection with Dakota Access, LLC’s Request for an Easement to Cross Lake Oahe, North Dakota (To Be Published February 17, 2017)

Original Federal Register Notice:
Notice of Intent To Prepare an Environmental Impact Statement in Connection With Dakota Access, LLC's Request for an Easement To Cross Lake Oahe, North Dakota (January 18, 2017)

Dakota Access Pipeline Approval Documents:
Department of Justice Notice | Department of the Army Approval Memorandum | Notice of Termination of EIS for Dakota Access Pipeline | Easement Letter to Congressional Leadership

White House Documents:
Presidential Memorandum Regarding Construction of the Dakota Access Pipeline (January 24, 2017)
Presidential Memorandum Regarding Construction of the Keystone XL Pipeline (January 24, 2017)
Executive Order Expediting Environmental Reviews and Approvals For High Priority Infrastructure Projects (January 24, 2017)
Presidential Memorandum Regarding Construction of American Pipelines (January 24, 2017)
Presidential Memorandum Streamlining Permitting and Reducing Regulatory Burdens for Domestic Manufacturing (January 24, 2017)
Press Release: President Trump Takes Action to Expedite Priority Energy and Infrastructure Projects (January 24, 2017)

Related Stories:
Army Department formally cancels Dakota Access Pipeline review (2/16)
Native Sun News Today: Dakota Access firms see spills, explosions (2/16)
James Giago Davies: Tribes face bigger threat than Dakota Access (2/16)
Monte Mills: Tribes turn to courts to battle Dakota Access Pipeline (2/16)
Standing Rock leader vows to 'forgive' despite White House slight (2/15)
Freedom Socialist: Voices from water protectors at Standing Rock (2/15)
New leader of key House panel defends handling of Dakota Access (2/14)
Dakota Access ready to start transporting oil sooner than expected (2/13)
More tribes join effort to halt completion of Dakota Access Pipeline (2/13)
Army Corps gave go ahead to Dakota Access Pipeline in key memo (2/13)
Mark Trahant: Battle over Dakota Access Pipeline is far from over (2/13)
Tribes head back to court in hopes of halting Dakota Access Pipeline (2/10)
Dakota Access pushes to finish pipeline with Army Corps easement (2/9)
Mark Charles: The real reason Trump hasn't heard about #NoDAPL (2/9)
James Giago Davies: Dakota Access battle has got us divided again (2/9)
Tribes promise fight to keep Dakota Access Pipeline out of homeland (2/8)
Key Dakota Access document from Army Corps wasn't filed in court (2/8)
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Tracy Loeffelholz Dunn: In defense of Native journalist Jenni Monet (2/8)
Chelsey Luger: Media is still trying to divide and conquer our people (2/8)
Peter d'Errico: Even Donald Trump can't trample over tribal treaties (2/8)
Andrea Carmen/Roberto Borrero: Trump's slash and burn on treaties (2/8)
Trump administration formally approves easement for Dakota Access (2/7)
Mark Trahant: Native journalist charged by North Dakota authorities (2/7)
Albert Bender: Donald Trump goes blitzkrieg on #NoDAPL movement (2/7)
Dakota Access offers timeline as Trump finalizes decision on pipeline (2/6)
Ladonna Bravebull Allard: Indigenous nations must stand our ground (2/6)
Jenni Monet: I got arrested for reporting on the #NoDAPL movement (2/6)
Ray Cook: Now it is time for all of us to stand down at Standing Rock (2/6)
Frances Madeson: More tribes joining with #DefundDAPL movement (2/3)
Mark Trahant: Donald Trump's 'logic' on the Dakota Access Pipeline (2/1)
Winona LaDuke: Tribes emboldened by resistance at Standing Rock (2/1)
Native Sun News Today: Tribes push back on Trump's pipeline orders (2/1)