Once again, I am so proud of my Native American brothers and sisters for standing together to stand their ground, and stand-up to centuries of oppression and abuse, working together to protect our critical natural resources.
Natives from across the country have come together for the first time in over a century to make a stand, and it seems to be making a difference. Most of the time Native Americans are out-of-sight, out-of-mind, and simply ignored. But that may be starting to change. Although the federal court said it would allow DAPL pipeline construction to continue, the federal governmental temporarily halted construction. Why?
There is only one reason why the government has agreed to halt construction. It is because of the critical mass that is amassing in North Dakota. With protest numbers at 4000 and growing, it is becoming harder and harder to ignore. This is a critical lesson, and a lesson that others, including western ranchers, must learn.
When people are out-of-sight, out-of-mind, it is easy to ignore them. Once again, this is where cowboys could learn a thing or two from the Indians. What works? What doesn’t? As far as I can tell, many cowboys and western ranchers were already faint-hearted and prone to helpless submission and government dominion. But now, after two Sagebrush Rebellion flare-ups in the last two years, with people killed and in jail, most cowboys and western ranchers seem to be more faint-hearted than ever in protecting their own interests. Forgive my French, but they seem to be too chicken-shit to take a stand. When the federal government says “jump,” most of them just say “how high?”
And that’s okay. One of the differences between cowboys and Indians is that cowboys can always just quit ranching, get a job, move to town, and do just what the government and the environmentalists want them to do — pack-up and get off the land. But in our case, even if we leave the reservation, we can’t quit being Native Americans. We are what we are. And when we say these are “our” land and resources, we’re not talking jibberish. Native American tribes are supposed to be soverign nations.
There are so many lessons to be learned. Among others, one of the lessons is that once again, white men speak with forked tongues and speak out of both sides of their mouths. Guys like Chris Zinda criticize Western ranchers for attempting to organize and figure out how to protect their rights. But at the same time, act like it would be okay if Native Americans do the same thing to protect their rights. That is what one of my friends calls letting personalities instead of principles dictate policy. Critical mass is okay if it’s people you like, but if it’s people you don’t like then it’s all wrong. If it’s somebody you don’t like, rocking the boat is sedition. It’s an illegal conspiracy. But that’s bullshit. What is good for the goose is good for the gander.
Critical mass works. Environmentalists have been doing it for years. And it’s been working. It even worked for the cowboys in Bunkerville. The only thing that caused the federal government to stop gathering cows was having the critical mass of 1000 angry people gather in protest.
And it might have worked for the cowboys in Oregon. If 1000+ cowboys and ranchers had shown up in Burns, Oregon to protest Federal mistreatment of the Hammonds, that would have made a difference. 5000 would have been better. If they had set up tents and teepees and occupied the city park and the courthouse, and refused to leave until something was done, that would have gotten someone’s attention and made a difference. But here’s lesson No. 3: For hell sake, DON’T DO IT IN THE MIDDLE OF THE WINTER. If you’re going to camp-out, take weather into consideration. But that’s just one more way the cowboys screwed up in Oregon. Big time.
Here are a few more clues. If there are more flags than people, it ain’t workin’. If there is more camouflage than Carhart, there’s a problem. But the biggest mistake, like I said before, is bringing guns to the protest. If, as with the cowboys and the militia, there are more guns than people, there’s definitely a problem and it definitely ain’t workin’.
Some have questioned and criticized the militia and patriot movement for not showing up in the same numbers and with the same enthusiasm in North Dakota that they did in Oregon and Bunkerville. I say good. Thank your lucky stars. Wannabe soldliers in camaoflage, packing more guns than sense can’t help this cause.
I’ve said this before, whatever you do, don’t point any guns at no special federal dudes. Pointing guns at special federal dudes is a huge mistake. Ask Eric Parker (doing plea deal of 10 years for simply pointing a gun in the general direction of some special federal contractors in Bunkerville?). What were the camouflage cowboys thinking? Did they really think that they could get away with it? Did they really think they could out-gun the Feds? Maybe for a minute.
Been there, done that. My people won many little battles and skirmishes with the Federal government and the people seeking to take our lands, but they just kept coming back, with bigger numbers and more guns. You can’t out-gun the federal government. Learn from our mistakes. We’ve tried it over and over again. Ask AIM. Ask Leonard Peltier. Now ask Cliven Bundy. Ask Ammon Bundy. How well did the guns work for you guys?
According to Thomas Jefferson, “When people fear the government it is Tyranny. When the government fears the people, it is Liberty.” But obviously, the government can’t tolerate liberty. It wants everyone to live in fear and intimidation, which my people have been doing for well over century.
But eventually, when you have been used and abused long enough that it feels like you have so little left to lose, and then the government is willing to add further insult to injury by risking contaminating your water — your only water — it’s time to do something. But once again, guns don’t work. So you have to do something differently. Don’t threaten the federal government with force. Those guys are way too insecure to handle that. If you get in a man-fight with the federal government, and start threatening its fragile, macho, male-ego, and start trying to measure dicks, you’re going to lose. It’s a no brainer: the Feds have the biggest. Just accept it.
But regardless of fragile federal egos, and the size of anyone’s equipment, after more than 100 years, it feels good to see Natives taking pride, standing up, and working together, based on lots of lessons learned through hard experience. It’s long overdue. And it seems to be making a difference. So what works? Bodies. Warm bodies. Unarmed warm bodies. CRITICAL MASS. Lots of unarmed warm bodies. The more the better. And the same thing would work for the cowboys. Who knows, if they would support the Indians, maybe the Indians would do the same for them. Wouldn’t that be something?
NOTE: “Off the Reservation” is a regular feature by Redtail Rose, who is well-known for her wicked wit and biting satire, so please consider all possibilities before going “federal” on her. Rose’s column is called “Off the Reservation” because in her writing she sometimes enjoys coloring outside the lines.