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 lay claim to the world’s most powerful seat for committing acts of good or evil, there is yet another David & Goliath story unfolding. 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 continues 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 when the Rosebud Sioux Nation in South Dakota and other native nations first declared it “An Act of War” that violates their sovereignty and 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 violated the native peoples of Oklahoma same rights.
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 in order to 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. 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 servicing 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. 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 & 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 repeated violations of its native peoples treaties and sovereign rights. (To see Neil Young’s Mother Earth music video go to:www.youtube.com/watch?v=t7hTATM4i_8).
If or when the Canadian government finally does give the highly controversial Kinder Morgan pipeline the green light to proceed, another explosive confrontation with First Nation peoples, environmental groups and the citizenry 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 is the Standing Rock Sioux people who oppose the DAPL’s incursions into the sacred lands and waters of their homelands on the basis that it violates their treaty rights as spelled out in the 1851 Treaty of Traverse de Sioux and 1861 Treaty of Fort Laramie.
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 is 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 the 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 by titled the Energy Suckers Partners; because its primary investors among Wall Street’s largest investment firms and financiers representing a vast array of banking institutions in Canada, U.S., France, UK, Scotland, Germany, Italy and Japan 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.
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 (i.e. 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 who 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@example.com 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.
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; while 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.
Jill Stein, the Green Party’s US presidential candidate and her VP running mate, Ajamu Baraka, 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”. The other US presidential candidates, Donald Trump, Hilary Clinton and Gary Johnson, however, never appeared upon the scene and so, of course, neither could be charged for whatever it was that they never did.! If these aren’t hot stories for the mainstream American press then what on God’s green earth is?
Editor Jim Naureckas concluded FAIR’S commentary on the plight of the Standing Rock Sioux people by returning 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.
Irwin is a freelance writer who regularly appears in the alternative press in the United States, Canada and Australia and is the author of the trilogy, “The Wild Gentle Ones; A Turtle Island Odyssey” (www.turtle-island-odyssey.com)