Lost amid the celebrations of Thanksgiving and the gluttony of Black Friday, most Americans continue another long tradition, ignoring the plight of Native Americans at the hands of business-driven government power.
Government agents using force against a people in much the same manner as happened when European settlers first came here. Treaties are signed and ignored. Whole tribes are destroyed in the pursuit of profit and prosperity.
A profit that comes at the cost of our humanity.
This is 2016 and the headlines could read like it was 1816. Yet, if the NFL plays today and our credit cards work tomorrow for Cyber-Monday, all is right in the world.
This is one of the last, and best, moments for President Barrack Obama to add to his legacy. If not because it is the right thing to do, then because it will be a finger in the eye to those who condone such actions.
Issue an executive order freezing all federal funds for any state or government entity which has personnel at Standing Rock.
Order the National Guard to Federal duty and have them do an about face. Put their force to the protection of these Native Americans and their land.
We tout our efforts to protect innocents abroad while ignoring those within our midst. A people standing up for themselves against the power of greed much as our founding fathers did against British tyranny.
This is their land. Their sacred grounds. Those words, their land, should mean something in a country that claims to stand for freedom. We gave our word and agreed to this. Does our word mean nothing?
Standing Rock could be a cornerstone of the President’s last few months in office. An opportunity to demonstrate the content of his character. Or, it could go down as another terrible, yet forgotten, denial of basic human rights to the first Americans for the profit of a few, more recent, Americans.
It’s hard to be too critical of such actions by others when we engage in it ourselves.
I am reminded of a quote by Chief Seattle, Duwamish (the tribal area of Seattle and Washington State)
“Humankind has not woven the web of life. We are but one thread within it. Whatever we do to the web, we do to ourselves. All things are bound together. All things connect.”
Until we realize that by attacking those at Standing Rock we are attacking ourselves, the promise of America will remain unfulfilled. Until all enjoy equal freedom, the greatness we seek will elude us.