We’re funding a new American dream

Reuters reported last week that Native Americans are suing BP for destroying sacred water. The company is already on probation for the infamous Deepwater Horizon oil spill, a vast ecological disaster. The Native Americans…

We're funding a new American dream

Reuters reported last week that Native Americans are suing BP for destroying sacred water. The company is already on probation for the infamous Deepwater Horizon oil spill, a vast ecological disaster. The Native Americans are particularly offended by the phrase “the sacred waterway.” The defendants argue that BP has correctly interpreted the term, according to Reuters. But for many Native Americans this language means oil extraction means destruction of the water. In photos from the oil spill, a stream in the Gulf of Mexico covered in oil is seen. And that river is connected to more than water. In an article for the Boulder Weekly in 2008, chronicling the effects of the oil spill on local ecosystems, Marie Roth O’Brien, Anthropologist, wrote that the ancient storytellers say: The lake of the Valley, God of the seas, blessed mankind for preserving sacred waters as it irrigates the earth and is responsible for caring for the endangered salmon, sea turtles, and other fish species that live in the way. But God of the seas does not want to hear that creation does not turn a blind eye to man’s destructive ways and desire the well-being of our wonderful water resources. Rather, He wants to hear that ancient wisdom is no longer good enough for our society. Western society wants there to be no sacred waterways for the earth to serve as our “sacred waterway” to protect us from a coming apocalypse. Instead, we see the inherent blessing of a petroleum monopoly which causes our great creeks, rivers, and lakes to be paved over, decommissioned, and polluted, all to advance a half-century’s worth of war and natural and man-made disasters, from the Chicago scandal to the Pollution Control Board. In Virginia, only in the most desperate circumstances does our Native American farmers ever claim their Sacred River through the Blackwater River, since the Blackwater is more often than not smothered with sand and silting, according to the History of Virginia. Our Bureau of Indian Affairs reports that many tribes have struggled to prove that their traditional territories overlap into “contiguous” territories, since almost every tribe is unified under just one administrating US federal agency. Again in Virginia, the Rappahannock Tribe wants to form a Tribes “cohesive statehood” with the surrounding tribes of Charles City, Dinwiddie, Essex, Gloucester, Isle of Wight, King William, and Middlesex counties. After the Vietnam War, the Resettlement Advisory Board (RAB) began to work with tribal governments. One good thing was the closing of many resettlement camps, and the Department of Interior notified tribes that they may remain in voluntary relocation if they got out of place. However, the Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) continues to practice a “sanctuary status” in which once a community is part of a resettlement camp, HUD will not assist tribal governments in locating the tribe’s ancestral home. HUD has openly stated that it avoids reading the 1971 Trafficking Victims Protection Reauthorization bill, which provides the legal framework for recognizing indigenous groups like Native Americans living in the former camps. Navajo, American Indian, and other tribes that previously counted themselves as members of the Navajo Nation were required to leave the reservation in the 1960s and 70s, since interracial marriage was illegal. Since the need to move out of the Navajo Reservation and into a permanent home was greatly reduced, only a handful of tribes have had the foresight to maintain and develop a reservation for elders to live in, and to support cultural and legal and medical practices like medical marijuana use. Some scientists even believe that the ability to grow cannabis is giving Native American tribes medicinal and spiritual benefits for treating AIDS, cancer, and other illnesses. While we have the resources to help the Native Americans, we seem bent on ignoring their needs. Whether one doesn’t want to give up control of their sacred water ways to oil companies or simply doesn’t know about what they mean, consider how inconvenient this makes for President Obama. A modern presidential campaign would be a sprint through Grand Junction, Colorado or even Wyoming. No tours of a reservation in the middle of the Rocky Mountains. And if you really don’t like being on camera, perhaps not setting up shop in the bush looks like something to boast about.

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