Trump declares war on Indian Country with presidential signings on DAPL and Keystone XL
Residents and organizers of Oceti Sakowin, the largest #NoDAPL encampment in North Dakota, are making plans to vacate and clean up the site in anticipation of flooding in the spring. | Standing Rock Rising

To begin with there has been more than a little confusion on what Trump actually signed on January 24, in regard to promoting the Dakota Access Pipeline and resurrecting the long buried Keystone XL. At first it was reported that he had only signed executive orders; then a more sober look indicated some of the documents were actually presidential memoranda.

Next a White House expert opined that the memoranda have the same force as executive orders and other authorities disagreed. Hence, the confusion continues. Even Trump observed, in regard to the heinous pipelines, that construction isn’t a “done deal.”  He has said, “We’ll see if we can get the pipeline built,” referring to Keystone XL. He sounds a bit less than decisive.

But, there are some aspects of this struggle about which there is no confusion: that is the fighting spirit and determination of the Native American opponents, and their allies, of these deadly projects. The Standing Rock Oceti Sakowin Camp upon hearing of Trump’s signings issued an immediate call for mass civil disobedience nationwide as a showing of solidarity with Standing Rock. The call was for people “to hit the ground immediately.”   Trump should realize that people are willing to die to stop this foul project.

Chase Iron Eyes, the local Dakotas’ Counsel for the Lakota People’s Law Project (LPLP) issued a strong statement “This is the Trump administration’s first salvo in the planned attack on our planet. Let’s create an immovable bulwark against his assault. It’s do-or-die time in the DAPL fight, and it’s up to all of us to inspire right action from the Army Corps of Engineers.”  Chase also pointed out that Trump “can’t prevent an Army Corps of Engineers ‘Environmental Impact Statement” that can halt the pipeline permanently.

Trump has declared war on Native people with his memoranda which can be seen as a “document of intent “of his vision of America. He envisions an America without Indians as did the so-called “founding fathers.”  Well, he has a surprise in store on that account — as did the progenitors of this capitalist monster we call America. Let the ravenous jackals of monopoly capital beware that DAPL and Keystone XL will again go down in defeat.

In the meantime, Trump’s actions have evoked a reaction from the Court of Judge Boasberg, before whom sit the tribal lawsuits and corporate countersuits in this struggle. Boasberg held a hearing Jan. 30 to determine what effect if any Trump’s memos will have on the pending litigation that is set to begin in early February. At the hearing, the judge demanded a timeline for finishing construction from the Dakota Access pipeline’s corporate backers.

The agenda of Trump, the agenda of mind boggling profits for the ruling class, the agenda of death, destruction and abject misery for the people of this land, the agenda he pursues with such greedy alacrity will turn this country topsy-turvy. Trump, the bombastic loudmouth of finance, will end up with a full-scale people’s revolt on his hands. As well he should.

I echo what was said by the elders at Standing Rock this past summer: “It’s not if we win, but when we win.”


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.