I know I learned in school that Indians were a noble people who lived as one with the earth, primitive, pagan. I didn't learn that they had cities that Europeans took over, that they had monuments that Europeans tore down.
I learned in school that the atrocities committed against Native Americans were history.
I didn't learn that, statistically, Native Americans are more likely than any other group to be shot by cops; statistically more likely to experience police brutality. I didn't learn in school about starlight tours, the non-sanctioned police practice of taking an Indian troublemaker out into the wilderness and leaving him there to find their own way home, if hypothermia doesn't kill him first. I didn't learn that many folks on Indian reservations don't have access to water in their homes - the infrastructure isn't there. I didn't learn that the federal government owns Native American lands, making it hard for Indians to mortgage their properties to get business loans.
I didn't learn that the process of energy development on Native American lands requires four federal agencies and 49 steps, far more than energy development off-reservation. Shawn Regan writing for Forbes.com says:
It’s not uncommon for years to pass before the necessary approvals are acquired to begin energy development on Indian lands—a process that takes only a few months on private lands. At any time, an agency may demand more information or shut down development. Simply completing a title search can cause delays. Indians have waited six years to receive title search reports that other Americans can get in just a few days.I didn't learn that federal regulations make it much harder for Indians to use or sell the natural resources on their own land.
Right now, many Indian tribes whose land might be affected by the construction of the planned Dakota Access Pipeline say that the pipeline is a threat to their land, their water, and their safety. They say that the pipeline will harm land that is sacred to them, will destroy sacred religious and cultural sites.There's a whole lot of science and legal and engineering stuff at play here that I just don't understand, but I do understand that the government's response to the Indians protesting the pipeline has been brutal. Hundreds of peaceful water protectors have been arrested and hundreds more have been doused with water in freezing temperatures, leaving many with serious hypothermia. There have been tear gas attacks, rubber bullets, and concussion grenades. The cops say they're quelling a riot, but there are hours upon hours of videotape recordings showing police attacking peaceful citizens. The evidence of police brutality here is so concrete that the UN has condemned it.
Look, our government is using our tax dollars to brutally attack our fellow Americans, and they say they're doing it on our behalf. I can't live with that. Here are some ways you can help. Here are some more. I chose to donate to the Standing Rock Medic + Healer council's Amazon Wish List. Plus I was able to use reward points and gift cards to make my donation go further.
Even if you think the water protectors are wrong, that the government is telling the truth and the pipeline is as safe as a baby kitten; even if you think the government is telling the truth when they claim the protectors at Standing Rock are rioting; even then it is still the case that injured people deserve adequate treatment. It is still the case that our fellow Americans are suffering. It is still the case that we should help however we can.