DailyPBO:The President & The Standing Rock Sioux Reservation - June 2014
The crowd to President Obama: “We love you President Obama! You’re our hero!” President Obama: “I love you back!”
Obama became only the fourth sitting president to visit an Indian reservation. Attending with the First Lady, it was a truly inspiring event at the Cannon Ball Pow Wow Grounds in Cannon Ball, North Dakota. The Native American community was bursting with pride over the president’s visit and when he spoke Lakota during his speech, they were completely moved. It was a wonderful day for a community that never (and I mean NEVER) gets the respect they deserve. Bravo, Mr. President.
For more reactions, check the Twitter hashtag: #PrezRezVisit
On this day in 1890, the Native American Lakota Sioux chief,
Sitting Bul, was killed. Formal peaceful relations between the Sioux and the United States
government had begun in 1868 upon the signing of the Fort Laramie Treaty. However, the discovery of gold in the Black Hills in the
1870s, led to a torrent of white prospectors invading the Sioux lands. The Sioux tribes united
under Sitting Bull’s leadership, and his people initially secured some major military
victories over American forces, most famously at the Battle of Little Bighorn in
1876, where Sioux and Cheyenne warriors defeated the famed General
Custer. Sitting Bull then led his people to Canada, only to return in 1881.
It was around this time that he joined Buffalo Bill Cody’s Wild West Show, but he soon returned to
his people to protect the rights of indigenous Americans. Sitting Bull was killed on the Standing Rock Indian
Reservation in 1890 by police, who were trying to arrest him under fears he
would join the Ghost Dance movement.
“I would rather die an Indian than live a white man”
Hundreds of protesters from three tribes and their allies stopped construction of the Dakota Access Pipeline for the second day in a row Wednesday, but law enforcement and private security are now preparing to amp up their presence.
Morton County deployed police, highway patrol and G4S personnel to dispel the gathering, reportedly bringing tear gas because of rumors that the protests were violent.
The $3.8 billion-project will funnel 500,000 barrels of crude per day from North Dakota to Illinois later this year. Members of the Sioux tribe have argued the pipeline will pollute drinking water as it crosses the Missouri and Little Missouri rivers and will disturb sacred sites.
The rivers are a water source for thousands of residents from the reservation and millions more downstream.
“Our Mother Earth is sacred. All things evolve and work together. To poison the water, is to poison the substance of life. Everything that moves must have water. How can we talk about and knowingly poison water?”
“You give them an inch, they take a mile,”
Olowan Sara Martinez of the American Indian Movement
Many of the protesters have broadcast their messages on social media in an open call to other tribes to join in. “It’s in our history. We don’t wanna give them an inch. We don’t wanna give them a mile.”
Thank you for standing up, it’s not easy to fight big oil. #Love it! Sacred sights, clean water as it’s all life mean nothing to these cold blooded oil barons.
A member of the Blackfoot tribe, Spotted Wolf spent her childhood working on her father’s ranch in Heart Butte, Montana, where she cut fence posts, drove trucks and broke horses. She first expressed an interest in joining the army when she was aged 18, shortly after the US entered into World War 2 at the end of 1941. However she was initially discouraged by a recruitment officer who told her that the war was ‘not for women’.
Spotted Wolf was eventually accepted into the Marine Corps Women’s Reserve in July 1943, making her the first Native American female Marine. She almost did not accept the post as her father was dying from a horse riding accident, however her mother and sister strongly encouraged her to pursue her ambitions. She underwent rigorous boot camp training at Camp Lejeune, during which she gained 15 pounds of weight from the diet and rigorous exercise. She later described the training as “hard, but not too hard” given her background on the ranch.
On completion of her training Spotted Wolf went on to serve 4 years in the Marines in California and Hawaii. She drove trucks loaded with heavy equipment, a job normally reserved for men, and also sometimes worked as a jeep driver for visiting generals. Spotted Wolf’s career quickly gathered media attention and she was featured in numerous news stories, and even her own comic book, to promote the war effort.
Following her discharge in 1947, Spotted Wolf returned to Montana where she married a farmer named Robert England with whom she had four children. She attended college to qualify as a teacher and spent the next 29 years teaching in reservation schools. She died in 1988 aged 65 and was buried in her military uniform.
Today, November 20th, marks the anniversary of the beginning of the Native American occupation of Alcatraz Island. The occupation, carried out from November 1969 to June 1971, was initiated by the Native American group Indians of All Tribes (IAT), and quickly joined by other individuals and groups, like the American Indian Movement (AIM). It is widely considered “the cradle of the modern Native American civil rights movement.” Veterans of the 19-month occupation would go on to play important roles in other Native organizations and campaigns.
The initial 79 occupiers hoped to establish a Native-controlled cultural center, and to hold the American government accountable for its historical and ongoing oppression of Indians.
The full text of the Alcatraz Proclamation, released by the IAT at the beginning of the campaign, after the cut.
Indian birchbark canoes were faster and more maneuverable than any small European boat. In 1605 three laughing Indians in a canoe literally paddled circles round the lumbering dory rowed by traveler George Weymouth and seven other men.
On this day in 1885, Métis leader Louis Riel was executed. Riel, born at the Red River Settlement in 1844, was an accomplished student who was given a scholarship to study at a seminary in Montreal. However, he later left the seminary and returned to Red River, and became active in the natives’ defiance of attempts by Canada to buy their land. As leader of the Métis National Committee, Riel led efforts to hault Canadian land surveys and coordinate with native groups to defend their land and consider entering confederation with Canada. The process hit a roadblock when a group of Métis, alarmed by the presence of armed Canadians in their land, executed a young Protestant called Thomas Scott by firing squad. However, ultimately an agreement was reached, and in 1870 the Province of Manitoba was created, which including 1.4 million acres reserved for Métis residents. Riel remained a controversial figure for his role in Scott’s death, and he soon fled to the United States, fearing for his safety from the Canadian military. In 1873, Riel left hiding to run for federal election, and became a member of the House of Commons. However, he was never able to take his seat and was soon expelled from the Commons. In 1884 he returned from America to assist Métis people in Saskatchewan to articulate their grievances against Canada, but this confrontation soon broke out into warfare. After the Métis were defeated, Riel was arrested and charged with treason and hanged on November 16th 1885. Riel’s execution made him a martyr for the Métis people, and repeated calls have been made for a retroactive pardon.
My first encounter with AIM was at a pow-wow held in 1971 … One man, a Chippewa, stood up and made a speech. I had never heard anybody talk like that. He spoke about genocide and sovereignty, about tribal leaders selling out … He had himself wrapped up in an upside-down American flag, telling us that every star in this flag represented a state stolen from the Indians … Some people wept. An old man turned to me and said, “These are the words I always wanted to speak, but had kept shut up within me.”