By exploiting Native Americans, the United States Government has been able to keep their culture repressed and ignored by the majority of the country’s civilians. The time has come, as a nation, to understand this constant and unfair treatment of Native Americans. People are so quick to say “get over it” or “move on” without actually understanding that this exploitation didn’t happen that long ago – and is still going on today.
Focusing mainly on the Great Dakota Sioux, I am going to list only a few examples of these restrictions- starting at the beginning.
Keep in mind, these examples are just scratching the surface of the injustice the Native American’s have faced.
To put this timeline into perspective I want to point out a few important moments in history,that might sound familiar to you:
- The Minnesota Gophers football team’s first national championship was in 1900 – only 50 years after the formation of the first Native American reservation and only 22 years after the Great Sioux’ reservation treaty was signed – Australia was still one year away from becoming a sovereign nation and Ford Motor company was only three years away from formation.
How can moments so familiar and relevant be so closely touched to something we consider greatly historic?
Treaty of Fort Laramie:
The original reservation for the Great Sioux, Treaty of Fort Laramie signed April 29, 1868, consisted of 25 million acres of land including all land of South Dakota west of the Missouri River. The treaty also indicates, in Article 11, designated areas of Nebraska set aside for hunting as well as article 16 which includes part of Wyoming and Montana as “unceded Indian Territory” – meaning no white man may enter this territory without the permission of the Great Sioux.
According to Article 12 of the Treaty of Fort Laramie, any changes to this treaty would need to be approved by three-quarters of the adult Sioux males.
This treaty was signed by both tribal leaders as well as the United States government.
After discovering gold in the Black Hills, a rush of hopeful miners flooded into the unceded territory.
In 1877, only nine years after the signing of the Treaty, the Sacred Black Hills was officially removed from the Great Sioux reservation by the government, without the consent of three-quarters of the adult Sioux men.
The Dawes Act:
The Dawes Act of 1889, only 21 years after the signing of the Treaty and only 11 years before the first Minnesota Gophers first football championship, reduced the Sioux reservation territory again. This Act broke the land down to six parts, one of which being the Standing Rock Sioux, opening up parts of the reservation to European settlers.
The Oahe Dam:
In 1958 the Oahe Dam, constructed by the Army Corps of Engineers, destroyed 90 percent of the Sioux’s timberland and flooded 22,091 acres of their most fertile farming lands.
Dakota Access Pipeline:
Today the Army Corps of Engineers is building a pipeline which would run underneath the Missouri River. This pipeline would threaten the Sioux’s primary water source and cultural sites.
Although the Standing Rock Sioux tribe has been opposing the Dakota Access Pipeline since 2014, the protests didn’t gain national attention until 2016 which brought in thousands of protesters from around the nation.
After months of protesting, on December 4, 2016 The Army Corps of Engineers finally denied the permit for the Dakota Access Pipeline to drill under the Missouri River– a win for the Standing Rock Sioux and Native Americans around the United States.
On Tuesday, February 6, 2017, under the Trump Administration, the United States Army declared that the deputy secretary will grant the final permit needed to complete the Dakota Access Pipeline, allowing the infrastructure to run under the Missouri River, erasing everything the Sioux people have been fighting to protect for three years
How can we ignore this? Why is there still a majority of people in our country who continue to insist that Native Americans don’t have a right to acknowledgement of their history? How can we develop a nation of acceptance, understanding, and solutions? We all need to understand why Native American’s are in the situation they are today, why they are so committed to stopping the Dakota Access Pipeline, and why we need to support their culture and way of life.
UPDATE: June 14, 2017, courts ruled that the Trump administration’s approval of the Dakota Access Pipeline violated the law.
#Blogpost4 Exercising you Public Voice