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)

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