Obama sticks with DAPL against Standing Rock Water Protectors
Supporters of the Standing Rock Sioux tribe rally in opposition of the Dakota Access pipeline in front of the White House. Jacquelyn Martin / AP

We have all heard how Nero fiddled while Rome burned. Well, Obama just traveled across Europe while Indian Country was hooded, waterboarded, maced, tear gassed, stripped naked and held in cold jail cells, beaten, dog attacked, zip tied in torture positions, shot with rubber bullets, and now the latest atrocity – soaked with water cannons in sub-freezing temperatures. All of this done by the private army – consisting of the Morton County Sheriff’s Department and its accomplices from the private sector – of the Dakota Access Pipeline (DAPL).

On November 20, peaceful, praying water protectors were subjected to many of the above attacks. Over 300 were injured, many severely and one elder had a heart attack. A young woman had her arm shattered and still may lose it to amputation.

In the meantime, where was Obama (or should I say Nero)? He was apparently having a great time cavorting across Europe.

But, now incredibly the response from the Obama administration via a statement from the Corps of Engineers is that the Water Protector camps will be closed to the public as of Dec. 5th, and those who remain will face citations. This is an astonishing development—and maybe then again it is not. But I didn’t see this one coming. Throughout this struggle and the heroism of the valiant Water Protectors, this so-called president has obstinately refused to stand up to Big Oil.

The nation is in an uproar as demonstrations were held across the country, on November 15, in support of the beleaguered Standing Rock people and their allies. Obama ignored the will of the American people and remained mute.

Moreover, just last week, November 23, the editorial board of the New York Times issued a column urgently requesting Obama to pressure the Morton County Sheriff’s Department to “stand down” in light of the injuries sustained by the Water Protectors. The editorial said, in conclusion, that this confrontation “is not going to end well.”

As I stated in an earlier column, if Obama does not defend the republic, the Constitution and the law of the land, including Native American treaties, this sets a very dangerous precedent. This is particularly true in light of the incoming presidency of Donald Trump and also in light of the fascist tactics of North Dakota law enforcement.

There is a hue and cry across this land for Obama to stand up for peaceful law abiding citizens and their Constitutional right to assemble peaceably to protest injustice. Instead, he hides in the hip pocket of Big Oil and behind the outrageous proclamation of the Corps. So far, he has not even had the moral courage to make a personal statement since the war crimes and atrocities at Backwater Bridge on November 20.

The following list of interventions needs to be considered:

A meeting with Obama in person by tribal representatives on this issue;

Immediate denial of the easement to the Dakota Access Pipeline;

Demilitarization of the Morton County Sheriff’s Department – the immediate banning of water cannon, rubber bullets, sound cannon and grenades and any military equipment;

The Sheriff’s Department must immediately stand down;

Decommissioning of the Morton County Sheriff’s Department, including the suspension of Morton County Sheriff Kyle Kirchmeier pending an investigation;

Sending in of federal troops to protect the Water Protectors;

A Department of Justice investigation including the investigation of war crimes;

Immediate suspension of the Army Corps of Engineers order threatening to close the Water Protector camps by December 5.

There also needs to be an immediate massive demonstration to the White House demanding that Obama take these measures as a mandate from the people. There should be an encampment set up that will be ready to engage in civil disobedience until Obama acts on behalf of the people of this land, and not the money hungry, fascist jackals that he is now serving.



Albert Bender
Albert Bender

Albert Bender is a Cherokee activist, historian, political columnist, and freelance reporter for Native and Non-Native publications. He is currently writing a legal treatise on Native American sovereignty and working on a book on the war crimes committed by the U.S. against the Maya people in the Guatemalan civil war He is a consulting attorney on Indigenous sovereignty, land restoration, and Indian Child Welfare Act (ICWA) issues and a former staff attorney with Legal Services of Eastern Oklahoma (LSEO) in Muskogee, Okla.