‘We Love Being Lakota’ short film & Related Issues

(Sorry, but I couldn’t find a transcript, allow this to act in lieu of one.)
From Roarmag.org/Films, April 12, 2015:

“In December 2014, we visited the Pine Ridge Indian Reservation in what is now South Dakota. We chose to begin our project at the archetypal site of struggle for land, sovereignty and autonomy among natives in the United States. It was the Lakota people, including warriors Sitting Bull and Crazy Horse, who put up some of the most historic fights against the US military forces in the nation’s expansion westward.

In the 1876-1877 Black Hills War, the US intervened militarily on behalf of settlers searching for gold in the Lakota’s most sacred site, now known as the Wind Cave National Park. It was in this context that the Battle of Little Bighorn took place, when the Lakota famously defeated George Armstrong Custer’s Battalion of the 7th Cavalry. Pine Ridge was later the site of the 1890 Wounded Knee massacre, in which that same 7th Cavalry killed hundreds of Lakota in its struggle to disarm and forcibly relocate them to the Pine Ridge Indian Reservation.

In 1973, Wounded Knee was the site of a 4-month standoff and occupation organized by the American Indian Movement (AIM) against both the federal government and local tribal council. In 1975, two federal agents were killed in a shootout at Pine Ridge, for which AIM member Leonard Peltier remains held as a prisoner at the US Penitentiary Coleman in Florida. To add insult to injury, the presidential monument Mount Rushmore currently stands within what’s called the Black Hills National Forest.

The traditional Lakota territory includes parts of North and South Dakota, Nebraska, Montana and Wyoming. The Lakota historically were a semi-nomadic tribe that would follow herds of buffalo for food. In order to force them onto reservations, the US military encouraged the wholesale slaughter of buffalo in the Great Plains, resulting in their almost complete extinction.

It was through the destruction of their food supply — and not through any victories in battle — that the United States was able to force the Lakota into a position of economic subservience and dependence. Through a series of treaty violations, the borders of “Great Sioux Reservation” declared by the 1851 Fort Laramie Treaty were reduced to the present situation in which the Lakota are now spread out over a number of non-contiguous reservations including Pine Ridge, Rosebud, Cheyenne River, Standing Rock and Crow Creek.*

The current unemployment rate on Pine Ridge is between 80-90%, and life expectancy is 50 years. Despite being one of the poorest areas on the continent, the Lakota refuse to accept a 1980 government settlement now totalling $1.3 billion in compensation for the theft of the Black Hills. They insist that no amount of money can be exchanged for the return of their sacred land to its rightful inhabitants. They are currently leading the resistance against TransCanada’s proposed Keystone Pipeline, which would be built directly through Lakota territory.

The histories and particularities of the Native American and Palestinian struggles are indeed quite different, but what they share is the experience of settlers moving to take over and control their traditional lands, later assisted by a military force which facilitated and justified the resulting displacement. The reservation and the refugee camp then become the essential sites to locate this history, identity, and struggle for land and sovereignty.

We met with veteran members of the American Indian Movement, and Owe Aku, Bring Back the Way to hear about the present situation on Pine Ridge, and to discuss their horizon for autonomy.

We Love Being Lakota is the first in a series of videos and texts from the documentary project ‘The Native and the Refugee’, which connects the struggles taking place on Indian reservations in the United States with those in Palestinian refugee camps in the Middle East.

In February and March, this video was presented at T Marbouta in Beirut, Lebanon; at the Jordanian Women’s Union in Amman, Jordan; and at the Freedom Theatre in the Jenin Refugee Camp in the West Bank. It was produced in collaboration with Adam Khalil.

Matt Peterson and Malek Rasamny will return to Akwesasne, Pine Ridge and the Navajo Nation this Spring to continue working on The Native and the Refugee. They are based in Ridgewood, New York.”

The Lakota have won a temporary reprieve from the NRC’s Atomic Safety and Licensing Board concerning the Dewey-Burdock uranium mine proposed for SW South Dakota.

“The ASLB required that Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) staff go back and do proper consultation with the Oglala Sioux Tribe, one of the parties in the licensing procedure.  According to Jeffrey Parsons, attorney for the Oglala Sioux Tribe, “As we have argued from the start of this process over five years ago, Powertech/Azarga and the NRC staff have never conducted an adequate review of impacts to cultural resources, and also did not impose sufficient controls to protect aquifers from contamination through historic drill holes.  The Board ruling today confirms these major flaws in the company’s analysis.” 

I don’t know how that will be affected by the following from DeSmogblog.com:

“Meanwhile, the U.S. Senate has decided to grant indigenous people a different set of rights altogether: the right to have oil and coal extracted from their ancestral lands in a streamlined manner. The rights to do so would be granted in a bill that passed unanimously in the Senate two days before the Paris Agreement.

Sponsored by U.S. Sen. John Barrasso (R-WY), the Indian Tribal Energy Development and Self-Determination Act Amendments of 2015’s (S.209) passage in the Senate received no media coverage besides a press release disseminated by Barrasso’s office and by the office of co-sponsor U.S. Sen. Jon Tester (D-MT).

In an opinion piece published in November by Indian Country Today, Barrasso lauded the bill for “empower[ing] tribes to develop their own energy resources” and “streamlin[ing]…approvals of many energy development transactions.”

“This will help to empower—not hinder—tribal self-governance and prosperity,” reads the article. “This legislation will empower tribes to develop their own energy resources on their lands. It will also streamline certain approvals of many energy development transactions, such as business agreements, right-of-ways and leases on Indian lands.”

After an illuminating (read: damning) ‘follow the money’ section, Horn concludes with:

“Congressional session has closed for 2015 and the White House has not yet signaled if it would veto the bill if it arrived at its desk when session begins anew in 2016.”

Please permit me to laugh.  Now he might be reported to have agonized before signing the bill. It’s hard to imagine such a glorious ‘bipartisan’ bill with a name like that won’t be passed in the House.

With ‘friends’ such as Senator ‘getting Washington-out-of-Indian-County Barrasso, chairman of the Senate Committee on Indian Affairs, who needs enemas? (h/t: Hawkeye Pierce)

Here’s the overview of S.B. 209: ‘Indian Tribal Energy Development and Self-Determination Act Amendments of 2015’.  Toward the end:

“Amends the Long-Term Leasing Act to authorize the Navajo Nation to enter into commercial or agricultural leases of up to 99 years on their restricted lands without Interior approval.

Allows the Crow Tribe of Montana to enter into leases on its restricted land for a term of up to 99 years.

Requires that any advance payments, bid deposits, or other earnest money received by Interior, subject to a certain restriction, in connection with the review and approval of a sale, lease, permit, or any other conveyance of any interest in any trust or restricted land of any Indian tribe or individual Indian, upon request by the tribe or individual Indian, to be held in the trust fund system, upon receipt and before contract or instrument approval, for the benefit of the Indian tribe and individual Indian from whose land the funds were generated.” (and cha-cha-cha…)

We know exactly what happened to the Indian Minerals Trust Account, don’t we?  Obama settled Covell for pennies on the Amerikan dollah.  Ta, Mister President; with friends like you….  This isn’t the sort of ‘sovereignty’ First American tribes are asking for, yes?

Quite related to increased coal extraction: ‘New Lawsuit Challenges Approval of More Navajoland Coal Pollution at Four Corners’.  I can’t speak about the Crow Nation, but decade after decade, the Dineh have been governed by crony capitalists, willing to sell out their people for profit.  Some Lakota tribal leaders have, as well, for instance ‘Dickie’ Wilson, the failed impeachment of whom led to the Occupation of Wounded Knee.

Four_corners_powerplant_copy

Four Corners Power Plant

Buffy Sainte-Marie: No No Keshagesh (Greedy Guts) Time’s Up!

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