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Elizabeth Cook-Lynn: Dakota Access is everything that's wrong with America

Filed Under: Opinion
More on: elizabeth cook-lynn, native sun news, north dakota, standing rock sioux, treaties

As the largest #NoDAPL encampment in North Dakota, Oceti Sakowin saw tens of thousands of visitors in 2016. Photo: Oceti Sakowin Camp

Dakota Access Pipeline … a metaphor for ‘what is wrong with America’
By Elizabeth Cook-Lynn
Native Sun News Today

The Standing Rock Sioux Tribe of the Northern Plains has been in the news lately giving the world the panoramic story of America itself: Exploitation of Mother Earth, land grabs, raw greed, Wall Street bankers, white supremacy, Texas oilmen and the unexpected featuring of the moral historical drama of the Indigenous defenders of the common good.

This story tells us that the tribal 2016 land/water defense is a cultural commitment made by people who have said from the beginning:
“We did not travel here. We are of the land.
We did not declare our independence.
We have always been free.”
At Cannon Ball, North Dakota the other day I met a fifty year old white woman from Fargo who was standing at the white man’s line in this curious face-off between “defenders of the Missouri River” (the mni wiconi) and the “Bull Connor style sheriff’s posse.” She told me: “This camp is awful,” waving her arms, “It’s a disgrace! God gave us this land and this water and we be should able to use it as we please,” a fourth grade colonial history which denies the invasion, the colonizing, the breaking of solemn treaties between nations, and the long history of the excessive force of American power enclaves.

This woman’s volatile and embarrassing spate of ignorance was shouted at me the same day that the young knowledgeable chairman of my tribe (who lives at a place the whites call the Crow Creek Sioux Reservation) was arrested and taken to jail in Bismarck along with about thirty other Indians to be arraigned on some vague charges of “disturbing the peace.”

When the Standing Rock Sioux established Sacred Stone Camp at Canon Ball we all knew that this inevitable clash was not the first attack on the Missouri River and the Dakotapi. It probably began in earnest in the 1700’s when Frenchmen came up the river in boats to steal furs and corrupt the way of life of the Dakotas who had lived there for centuries. Indeed, this clash has been the ongoing saga of the entire West. It has resulted in centuries of environmental degradation, poverty, theft, and white superiority. And, we’ve all got those French names, haven’t we? Once about 20 years ago I once wrote a novella about all of this and called it From the River’s Edge.

My story told of the 1950’s, two hundred years after the Frenchmen and other Europeans came, when one of the most hostile and unforgiving attacks on the Missouri River took place. It was when the U. S. federal government (treaty trustee to the tribes), with the urging and cooperation of non-Indian North Dakota and South Dakota legislators made racist laws which ended up putting several hydro-power dams in the sacred river all the way from Bismarck, North Dakota to Sioux City, Iowa, flooding 550 square miles of treaty protected lands of the Sioux, forcing Indians off of their treaty lands.

Read the rest of the story on the Native Sun News Today website: Dakota Access Pipeline … a metaphor for ‘what is wrong with America’

(Elizabeth Cook Lynn can be reached at

Copyright permission Native Sun News

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