The Dakota Access Pipeline; A David & Goliath, Good vs. Evil Story

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As the eve of the 2016 US presidential election draws nearer, and the world inches that much closer to the edge of their seats, wondering who the winner will be to claim the world’s most powerful seat for committing acts of good or evil, another David & Goliath story unfolds. It’s yet one more spin on the same story that has been told for years between ‘The People,’ who seek to do good for the planet, and ‘The Powerful’ who desire to pursue the same pathways of evil that continue to destroy the lives of the people and earth alike.

This colossal struggle around the extraction of the earth’s diminishing natural resources continues to mount ever since the genesis of the original Keystone XL pipeline proposal. That was when the Rosebud Sioux Nation in South Dakota and other native nations first declared it “An Act of War” that violates their sovereignty and an abrogation of their treaty rights. It continued onward when the Bank of America became the lead financier of the lofty-sounding Plains All American Red River II Pipeline That project violated rights of the native peoples’ of Oklahoma.

This undeclared war continues as Canada’s controversial Kinder Morgan tar sands pipeline and export terminal facility proposal also now seeks to plow new pipelines and shipping lanes through the pristine wilds of Canada and its Salish Sea. These pipelines would transport some 890,000 barrels of Alberta tar sand liquid bitumen every day through the lives of indigenous, non-indigenous peoples and the natural world.

The Dakota Access Pipeline; A David & Goliath, Good vs. Evil Story The Dakota Access Pipeline; A David & Goliath, Good vs. Evil Story Kinder Morgan, the largest pipeline company in the U.S., was founded by Richard Kinder, who took over from Jeffrey Skilling, CEO of Enron Corp who is now serving 24 years in prison for fraud and insider trading. Called “the luckiest ex-Enron employee” by the Wall Street Journal, Kinder is the 110th richest man alive with a net worth of 8.2 billion.

The real question is this: As this proposal makes Richard Kinder even that much richer, will it, in the end, also make the lives of all the people and the earth’s natural world and its denizens an even much more richer Kind-er place? At this writing, Kinder Morgan’s proposal awaits the imminent approval of PM Trudeau and his Liberal Government.

Singer, songwriter, activist Neil Young – of Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young fame – who wrote the song Who’s Gonna Stand Up? to protest the Keystone XL Pipeline in 2014, has composed another brilliant artistic music-video Mother Earth that speaks to Canada’s pipeline proposals and its repeated violations of First Nation peoples treaties and sovereign rights.

Neil Young’s Mother Earth Music Video

If or when the Canadian government finally does give the highly controversial Kinder Morgan pipeline the green light to proceed, there will be another explosive confrontation with First Nation peoples, environmental groups and the citizenry. This confrontation will no doubt lead to the same kind of confrontational debacle that is currently unfolding in North Dakota ever since the US Army Corp of Engineers approved the construction of the Dakota Access Pipeline (DAPL). If that proposal is also approved by the new US President, and the current “voluntary pause” is lifted, it will plow through 1,168 miles of Indian tribal lands, farming communities, endangered nature areas and wildlife habitats, stretching from the Bakken oil fields in North Dakota through to the Gulf of Mexico, as it transports up to 650,000 plus barrels of crude fracked oil per day.

On the David side of this new-old story of struggle are the Standing Rock Sioux people. They oppose the DAPL’s incursions into the sacred lands and waters of their homelands. The basis of their opposition is that it violates their treaty rights as spelled out in the 1851 Treaty of Traverse de Sioux and 1861 Treaty of Fort Laramie.

Pipeline of Corporate Greed

The Sioux are joined by Some 200 Native American Tribes and Nations in Canada and the United States alone, not to mention the support of indigenous nations throughout South America, Africa, Asia and Australia. And while powerful corporate Union and Labor leaders, like AFL-CIO Union president Richard Trumka, endorse the Dakota Access Pipeline on the supposition that it will stimulate employment and a healthier economy, there are a host of ordinary AFL-CIO minority union workers – like the Asian Pacific American Labor Alliance, Coalition of Black Trade Unionists, Coalition of Labor Union Women, and Labor Council for Latin American Advancement – who stand in solidarity with the Sioux.

The Coalition refers to the Sioux as “our Native American kinfolk, who are one of the most marginalized and disenfranchised groups in our nation.” Naming the proposal, “A Pipeline of Corporate Greed,” this widespread coalition challenges the American Labor Movement to better engage native peoples and other marginalized people in the labor movement as a whole. One could characterize their collective resistance as an essential plank in the Our Revolution Movement that originally began with the Bernie Sanders run for the U.S. presidency.

On the Goliath side of the story is Energy Transfer Partners, a huge Texas-based corporate conglomerate involved in the extraction of natural gas, gas liquids (NGL’s), crude oil and refined petroleum products from the earth that, if truth be told, should instead be titled the Energy Suckers Partners; because its primary investors are among Wall Street’s largest investment firms and financiers. They represent a vast array of banking institutions in Canada, U.S., France, UK, Scotland, Germany, Italy and Japan, who are, themselves, energy suckers who continue in every conceivable way to suck the natural resources and life force out of all the people and the earth.

Struggle Between The People and The Powerful

This never-ending struggle between ‘The People’ & ‘The Powerful’ rages unabated in every sector of world society, pitting tiny indigenous nations, workers unions, environmental groups, celebrities and alternative press against the world’s mightiest giants in the corporate-mining-political-financial mainstream media.

The list of environmental groups throughout North America that support the Standing Rock Sioux’s defense of their homelands is an impressive one. They include the Indigenous Environmental Network; Sierra Club, Greenpeace; Honor the Earth; Bold Alliance; 350.org; MN350; Rainforest Action Network; Center for Biological Diversity; Oil Change International; 350 Madison; Stand.Earth; Family Farm Defenders; Save Our Illinois Land; Power Shift Network; Rising Tide North America, Minnesota Public Interest Research Group; Midwest Environmental Advocates; For Love of Water; Wild Earth Guardians, Friends of the Earth; International Forum on Globalization; US Climate Plan; Iowa Citizens for Community Improvement; Earthworks; Water Keeper Alliance; Environmental America and the Science and Environmental Health Network.

Widespread coverage of this David & Goliath story by the world’s alternative news networks has been led by the investigative reporting of Democracy Now which continues to report what the mainstream corporate press refuses to print or air. Gradually, in spite of this virtual mainstream news black-out, this story continues to seep into every corner of the earth and spark a mounting ground-swell among various grass root movements.

Archaeologists & Museums has now denounced the destruction of the Standing Rock Sioux’s burial grounds by the Dakota Access Pipeline and created a sign-on letter via [email protected] which invites the world’s archaeologists, anthropologists, historians and museum workers to add their names.

Like Neil Young’s earlier moving Mother Earth music video, Young has again created yet another equally emotional, thought-provoking music video called Indian Givers that brilliantly summarizes, with news footage and lyrics, the issues behind the Standing Rock Sioux’s struggles.

Young sings, “There’s a battle raging on sacred lands/our brothers and sisters have to take a stand against us now for what we all been doing/On the sacred land there’s a battle brewing. I wish somebody would share the news and bring back the days when good are good and stand against the evil ways” (To listen to and see Neil Young’s music video go to: https://www.pastemagazine.com/articles/2016/09/neil-young-releases-indian-givers-song-and-video-i.html and click on the article “Neil Young Releases ‘Indian Giver’s Song & Video”).

To give further perspective to how little coverage the mainstream press in North America initially has given to this conflict, FAIR (Fairness & Accuracy in Reporting), in a Sept. 22nd report, states that according to its search of the NEXIS news database, Neil Young’s song is “actually 5 minutes, 39 seconds longer than the initial combined coverage of the controversy on the ABC and NBC networks, not counting the some 48 words read at 4 o’clock in the morning on the CBS Morning News (9/5/16).”

In spite of this virtual blackout in the mass media, many celebrities in the entertainment world have already begun to take Neil Young’s song to heart to show their support for the Sioux peoples. Counted among them are: Leonardo Di Caprio, Mark Ruffalo, Shailene Woodley, Susan Sarandon, Riley Keogh, Pharell Williams, Rosario Dawson and the cast of Justice League.

Mainstream Media Missing In Action

However, the lack of hard news reporting of the issues by the major television and newspaper networks still means that much of what thus far has gone on remains unnoticed and invisible to the general public. For instance, there is the fact that, as if it were a page taken right out of the ugly racial violence during the 1960’s civil rights movement in Selma Alabama, those who chose to stand in solidarity with the Sioux, and travelled to North Dakota to physically protest the pipeline’s construction, ended up being pepper-sprayed, bitten and bloodied by vicious guard dogs and roughed up by hired security thugs.

Democracy Now’s Amy Goodman, who broke the news story, was charged with criminal trespass for her courageous, fearless on-site reporting. Yet few in the mainstream press, either then or since, have rushed to Goodman’s defense; so much for protecting the freedom to report the truth.

Nor have the mainstream news networks pressed each presidential candidate as to where they stand on this contentious conflict.

Presidential Candidates Silent

Donald Trump has yet to directly comment on the Dakota Access Pipeline Project, though Harold Hamm, his energy advisor, Founder & CEO of Continental Resources, recently announced to his investors that fracked oil from North Dakota’s Bakken Shale Basin, destined to be transported to world markets by DAPL, anticipates huge profits once the project is completed.

Hamm, originally an outspoken supporter of the TransCanada’s Keystone XL Pipeline, shifted his support for the DAPL once he realized the northern leg of the XL was doomed. While another of Trump’s key advisors ? North Dakota Governor Jack Dalrymple, like Trump a strong advocate of Law & Order ? recently ordered armed National Guard troops to man key concrete-barrier checkpoints around the DAPL Project to guard against possible outside agitators and bolster massively-armed law enforcement security forces. That security includes the deployment or use of: MRAP’s (Mine-Resistance Ambush Protected Vehicles); LRAD’s (Long Range Acoustic Device) sound cannons; as well as guard dogs, pepper spray, tear gas and shotgun-armed police. This massive over-kill response meant to face off against Sioux men, women, children ‘Water Protectors’ and their supporters armed only with their prayers in peaceful protest.

Presidential Hillary Clinton, on the other hand, whose campaign has taken money from Wall Street’s oil and gas barons, also has refused, to date, to voice any opinion at all about the DAPL Project and its outrageous treatment of the Standing Rock Sioux and brazen violations of their treaty rights. Clinton’s silence is in harsh contrast to the lip service her party’s platform has paid to support native peoples’ tribal sovereignty, resources and sacred sites.

Gary Johnson, the Libertarian candidate, has only issued a weak, insipid statement calling upon state and tribal leaders to work together to reach an agreement to respect both the rights of private businesses, landowners and treaty rights of native peoples, but, at the same time, accuses outside forces of having latched onto the issue to further their own agendas.

Presidential Candidate Charged

On the other hand, Jill Stein, the Green Party’s US presidential candidate, and her VP running mate, Ajamu Baraka, are the only candidates to actually put their bodies on the line by participating in solidarity with the Sioux. As a result, Stein and Baraka, like Amy Goodman, also have been charged, and warrants issued for their arrest, for trespassing and committing mischievous vandalism when Stein dared to spray on a DAPL Caterpillar bulldozer blade the message “I approve this message, while Ms. Baraka sprayed the message “decolonization.

So much for the mainstream medias coverage of what should be a seminal issue as it relates to the larger issue of climate change in the 2016 US Presidential Election.

Editor Jim Naureckas concluded FAIR’S commentary on the plight of the Standing Rock Sioux people by calling for the public’s attention to Neil Young’s song ‘Indian Givers’ and its line that repeats over and over again, “I wish somebody would share the news,” while offering the observation, “I wish more corporate media decision-makers were Neil Young fans.”

And so ends this episode of David & Goliath, Good versus Evil that continues to remain relatively unknown in the general public’s conscious awareness.

Let’s see if we can change that, by taking action now on social media.

Jerome Irwin is a Canadian author, who wrote The Wild Gentle Ones: A Turtle Island Odyssey. He once lived with the Crow Creek Sioux along the old Fort Thompson stretch of the Missouri River.