Keeping retirement weird. 500 broken treaties.

At a little after 4PM yesterday I joined several hundred Native people and supporters gathered in a circle below the Chicago Picasso and took part in a Lakota prayer.

Over the past several days, rallies in support of the encampment at Standing  Rock have taken place in cities across the country.

We had heard that a judge had ruled against the protesters who want the pipeline construction halted that will move North Dakota oil across four states – North and South Dakota, Iowa and Illinois – and under two major rivers. It is a huge environmental threat to millions of people.

And then we heard that the Obama administration had ordered a temporary halt to the pipeline construction.

I am not a religious person. But as I joined in the Lakota prayer I had no doubt that we are on the side of the angels. There is no moral middle ground on this one. There is right and there is wrong.

It is not for me to say how the Lakota leaders – who have welcomed thousands to Standing Rock – should respond to the Obama action.

We do not have a good track record on promises to Native people in this country.

It is said that over 500 treaties were made with Native nations, primarily for land cessations, but 500 treaties were also broken, changed or nullified when it served the government’s interests.

Following the federal government’s announcement, I read this on the Standing Rock Facebook page:

Let’s be cautious about celebrating this.  On one hand it seems clear that our pressure is having an effect.   Let’s keep it up.

But we have seen time and time again a consistent strategy from the State in these situations: string out the process, break it to us gradually to avoid a big confrontation, present the illusion of careful thoughtful review of the case, tempt us with promises of modest reforms…but then in the end make the same decision that serves money not people.   So far this is just talk, not actions, and actions are all we should care about.  

Stop the pipeline, and then we’ll celebrate.

We are not leaving until this is over.

I feel like this is a victory.

But I also feel like it is not for me to say.

My photos from yesterday:


2 Replies to “Keeping retirement weird. 500 broken treaties.”

  1. Aren’t you bothered by the protesters’ desecration of the Picasso artwork by trampling all over it?

    Maybe it’s ok ‘cuz he was an old white guy?

    1. Laughing. The Picasso is made of Cor-Ten steel manufactured by US Steel in Gary Works. For years, as part of an annual field trip of fourth graders to see public art and architecture in the Loop, my students would slide down the Chicago Picasso, as my own daughters did when they were little. It is no desecration. It can handle trampling. It has survived thousands of tramples since 1967. It will survive for many decades to come. As a revolutionary, Pablo would be pleased.

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