Emvponayv: One who tells the story

Emvponayv: One who tells the story

‘The original route planned for this pipeline took it north of the North Dakota cities of Bismarck and Mandan. That plan got killed because leaders in those cities feared possible pollution of their water. The next plan (now being built) takes it next to the Standing Rock Sioux.’

Gary Fife/Radio Specialist

Native activists fight pipeline, Natives on Oscar Academy

OKMULGEE, Okla. — For most of Indian Country, the top story is that of the Standing Rock
Sioux tribe standing to prevent the Dakota Access pipeline from crossing an area that would endanger their water supply from the Missouri River, and would disrupt sacred site and burial grounds.

What began as a grassroots opposition to the oil pipeline has swelled into a national movement as tribes from across the country are represented in the two camps established there.

The outpouring of support for the tribe and their allies is amazing and it has been compared to modern Native activist events such as the occupation of Alcatraz, the Trail of Broken Treaties and the American Indian Movement occupation of Wounded Knee.

Muscogee (Creek) citizens and the tribal government have offered their support. A National Council Resolution has been passed and loads of food, water and other supplies have been taken to North Dakota.

A recent rally in downtown Tulsa drew hundreds of local Native people and supporters. Our own Mvskoke Media covered the story and presented segments on-line. It was good to hear the AIM song again and see our tribal flag being waved.

Up until recently, there has been pretty much a news blackout of the topic by the big-shot national news outlets. That has changed since reports of clashes between private security people and those opposing the pipeline. People being bitten by guard dogs and being maced got their attention.

It seems the old philosophy about choosing stories to cover by big newsrooms still is alive and well: ‘If it bleeds, it leads.’

Here’s a good fact that should be reported (and isn’t):

The original route planned for this pipeline took it north of the North Dakota cities of Bismarck and Mandan.

That plan got killed because leaders in those cities feared possible pollution of their water. The next plan (now being built) takes it next to the Standing Rock Sioux.

That’s OK, huh? Similar projects like this in other parts of the country were called: ‘Environmental racism.’

You call that one for yourself.

In a late update Friday Sept. 9, a federal court ruled against the Standing Rock lawsuit to halt the project.

The court held that there had been required surveys, discussions and there were controls allowing the tribe to monitor the project. It was a 58-page decision.

‘For all of the above reasons, the Tribe has not carried its burden to demonstrate that the Court could prevent damage to important cultural resources by enjoining the Corps’ DAPL-related permitting.’

But it ain’t over ‘til it’s over.

Right after we saw the court ruling supporting construction, this little jewel appeared. (Emphasis mine.)

The Departments of Justice, the Army and the Interior issued the following statement regarding Standing Rock Sioux Tribe v. U.S. Army Corps of Engineers:

‘We appreciate the District Court’s opinion on the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers’ compliance with the National Historic Preservation Act. However, important issues raised by the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe and other tribal nations and their members regarding the Dakota Access pipeline specifically, and pipeline-related decision-making generally, remain.

‘Therefore, the Department of the Army, the Department of Justice, and the Department of the Interior will take the following steps:

‘The Army will not authorize constructing the Dakota Access pipeline on Corps land bordering or under Lake Oahe until it can determine whether it will need to reconsider any of its previous decisions regarding the Lake Oahe site under the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) or other federal laws. Therefore, construction of the pipeline on Army Corps land bordering or under Lake Oahe will not go forward at this time.’

The same statement also says that they will request the oil company to voluntarily stop construction on a site near or under Lake Oahe in the Dakotas, which is adjacent to the Missouri River.

In other tribal water news, you may recall a story earlier this year about two Oklahoma tribes wrapping up a deal with the State of Oklahoma over their water rights. It was good news to see this one reported by several news agencies locally.

It all starts with the 1830 Treaty of Dancing Rabbit Creek, which recognized the authority of the Choctaw and Chickasaw Nations over the creek.

The state argued that the tribes gave up their sovereignty after backing the Johnny Rebs in the Civil War. A tribal attorney said, nope, the new state gave up those rights in 1906 when it became a state.

The conflict began to be contested when Oklahoma City wanted some of that water and began a legal battle.

The tribes filed a federal lawsuit alleging that the Oklahoma Water Resources Board could not negotiate to use water from traditional Native American land. The State of Texas wanted some of that water, too.

But, a deal was worked out.

Oklahoma gets to manage the state’s natural water supply but they have to recognize tribal sovereign authority and conservation guidelines. Oklahoma City gets its water.

Remember the uproar over the Motion Picture Academy being accused of not including minority members? Critics said the Oscar may be gold but Academy members were mostly white, and it showed in the award selections being overwhelmingly Caucasian.

Well, after a national uproar from minority peoples, that has been changed—somewhat.

Five industry participants of indigenous heritage have been invited to join the movie industry group according to the SunDance Academy: Sherman Alexie (Spokane/Coeur d’Alene) Adam Beach (Saulteaux of Dog Creek First Nation), Cliff Curtis (Te Arawa, Ngāti Hauiti), Heather Rae (Cherokee) and Taika Waititi (Te Whanau a Apanui).

Maybe if these folks had been in on the process a few years ago, we wouldn’t have had to endure ‘The Lone Ranger’ or ‘The Ridiculous Six’?

Glad to see those bombs never got any awards except some bad ones. Depp was nominated for a 2014 Razzie Award for ‘The Lone Ranger,’ for Worst Actor and the film won for Worst Remake, Rip-Off or Sequel.

And while we’re looking at actors and movies, ‘National Public Radio’ reported the film legend John Barrymore stole a Tlingit (pronounced ‘Klink-it’) totem pole in 1931, and it eventually became a garden decoration for Vincent Price.

Good news, though. In October of last year, members of the Alaska tribe were allowed to return the carving to their village of Klawock.

That was a case where the Native American Graves Repatriation Act, actually worked.

Now for more of the local scene.

Muscogee (Creek) Nation Principal Chief James Floyd is slowly getting his candidates for the top tribal cabinet spots approved by the National Council. For a while there, several of those names did not get past the Council.

The MCN Election Board is undergoing some examination, and there’s a possible elimination or overhaul of the Tribal Employment Rights Office program.

Finally, going back to the North Dakota pipeline issue, while he was on tour of southeast Asia, a reporter from Laos asked President Barack Obama about his administration’s stance on opposition to the DAP project.

Obama kind of stammered and tried to ‘PR’ his way out of a jam. He talked about all the things his administration had done to support tribal futures, but failed to answer the question.

A simple ‘yes, I do support them’ or ‘no, I don’t’ would have been enough, but no.

If you can’t dazzle them with your brilliance, baffle them with B.S. It reminded me of being on the highway when one of those big semi livestock haulers goes by you. Fvmpe, (stinks).

Hvtvm Cehecares—(I’ll see you again).


GARY FIFE Radio Specialist 918.732.7643 | GFife@MvskokeMedia.com An enrolled member of the Muscogee (Creek) Nation of Oklahoma, and of Cherokee heritage, Gary D. Fife is a career veteran of journalism, with nearly 40 years of experience in print, radio and television specializing in Native American affairs. He and his wife co-habit their home with a scottish terrier named Willow.


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  • Lori Nelson
    September 10, 2016, 12:55 pm

    ~ Thank you from a Chickasaw at large.