Elizabeth Cook-Lynn: Indians still don't matter in South Dakota

Opposition to the Dakota Access Pipeline in North Dakota has spurred lawmakers in neighboring South Dakota to enact legislation targeting protest activities. Photo: Irina Groushevaia

Riding on the coattails of history
By Elizabeth Cook-Lynn
Native Sun News Today Columnist

In March, 2017, as Governor Dennis Daugaard got ready to sign SB 176 in Pierre, he called it a “protest response bill,” and it included many restrictions against the Indians (and their supporters) who had been at the forefront of the Dakota Access Pipeline - Tribal Defense of the Missouri River.

South Dakota Senate vote: 25-10. South Dakota House vote: 55-12. Indian representatives Kevin Killer who argued for tribal control and Troy Heinert sought the bill’s defeat to no avail.

The human consequences of this political activity will not be known until a few years from now when there is a break in the pipes under the Oahe Reservoir and the drinking water of thousands of people will be contaminated. Other calamities await us all.

In the meantime it may be useful to look briefly into the quick responses of white South Dakota Legislators and their failure to understand their own historical race doctrine and bigotry as we accept the U. S. Government’s rationale for technological superiority in the world and oil economies and control of land. Clearly, Indians don’t matter.

Dan Kaiser (R-Aberdeen) was almost there when he said, in responding with a “no” vote, “I don’t know what kind of statement we’re trying to make with this, but…it is a poor one.” His colleague Al Movstrup was probably more on the money as he said “the legislation helps South Dakota be prepared for opponents of the pipeline.”

Heinert (D-Mission) said “I don’t know if we fully understand the level of commitment of some of these people,” and he voted “no.” Other concerns were “not letting things get out of control," and “protesters need to be responsible for expenses.” Lee Qualm of Platte said, “We had no clue”.

The cluelessness of some of our lawmakers makes a clear case for the failure of history.

Even Indians have forgotten the days when Gen. William S. Harney was in charge of these kinds of things, and Zepher Rencountre translated in official documents the following:
“Indians must not obstruct or lurk in the vicinity of roads traveled by the whites [and] certainly Indians must not molest any travelers through their country.”

That was 1856 the heyday of the termination of the sovereign status of Indian Nations and the Conservative philosophy of America exhibiting an indifference to the poor, the minority vote, the uncontested threat to black and brown people, the days of Carnegies, Rockefellers and the Melons, when the country was industrialized and fortunes were made. Nothing much has changed but now we have Trump and Exxon.

Read the rest of the story on the Native Sun News Today website: Riding on the coattails of history

(Contact Elizabeth Cook-Lynn at ecooklynn@gmail.com)

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