The River Runs Through It
The other day I participated with wife Jane and so many others as part of the nationally orchestrated “Protection of Water stand in opposition to the Dakota Access Pipe Line. I did so out of solidarity with the Standing Rock Sioux and other indigenous and their allies who have endured so much over the centuries in resistance to the forces of powerful government economic self-interest and, more recently, corporate greed.
Now, I grew up never knowing this side of history. I attended a city high school and played football under the moniker of our team, the Manual Redskins. Never gave it a thought. As a kid I played Cowboys and Indians. Only once did I choose to be an “Indian” and painted my face with some old oil base house paint which I found in my basement but which didn’t come off for several days. I should have known way back then that innocent identifying with this people would bring on serious consequences as part of a history of land grabs and broken treaties in the economic interests of a serially intrusive, invasive nation.
I post my sign for today’s demonstration also because, in keeping with these powerful sisters and brothers, I oppose the oil pipeline’s felt threat to their water source of the Missouri River. Should a pipeline leak and a rupture then materialize—which they/we are told is a near unlikely scenario, given new, sure-fire technology—the water downstream would carry contaminants for miles and miles.
There is the predictable spin around all of this, of course, from Corporate entities and investors. Word is that the Standing Rock reservation has been offered a chance to change its water source. And, the point that is emphasized, repeatedly, is that technically, the pipeline does not, after all, cross any of the reservation, except for nearby hallowed burial grounds, sacred sites of ancestors, families. What do ranchers and “neighbors” stand to gain from a purchased right-of-way under their privately owned land? And factor that up against the price of these first peoples’ health and well being and tribal identity, the disruption of culturally meaningful sites, to say nothing of the polluting of the water and life source which, signs in the venues of demonstrations all across the US declare, “Water Is Life!”
Meanwhile, the winds blow across the great plains and mid section of this nation. Ceaselessly. Watch the national weather reports. Is there not new, sure-fire technology to harness these natural forces, without any such environmental threat and adverse affects to the people living comfortably, maybe even content, under their quietly turning, huge generative blades? Cannot enough money be made from harnessing this natural commodity that no one has to dig for, drill for? Can we not adjust a bit downward our perspective and our calculators and our predictions of profit and instead point up to the inexhaustables of sun and wind? Or are we so mentally climatized, so industrially addicted to just dig deeper and more more extensively, for fossil fuels that are, in fact, exhaustible for future generations?
When I invited friends to join us at the demonstration, I was told “We’re not political.” I quoted that phrase from someone, that “to do nothing is to bless the status quo.”
And then there is this quote, fast-forwarded from the 19th Century:
“This war did not spring up on our land, this war was brought upon us by the children of the Great Father who came to take our land without a price. . . This war has come from robbery. . . ..” Spotted Tail (Sioux)
Rev. Steven L. Davis