Divide and conquer the weak minded
A couple of weeks back I wrote about Public Law 280, about how a 1968 civil rights amendment to that Law provided tribes with a protection against state encroachment. If a state, like South Dakota, wants civil and criminal jurisdiction over a tribe, like the Oglala, a majority of tribal members must approve, which we all know they never will.
Two North Dakota state senators introduced a bill to implore the US Congress to remove that amendment. North Dakota wants jurisdiction on Standing Rock. This would mean the beginning of the end for tribal sovereignty.
No tribal leader was doing anything about this. No paper but Native Sun News Today was writing about this. They were all preoccupied with the DAPL situation. They mostly still are. This is a threat far greater than any DAPL poses.
My column appeared on our Facebook page. Comments were left, but even the comments which were positive, did not address the 1968 amendment threat. I wrote that if our leaders don’t know about this threat, aren’t concerned about this threat, we need new leaders, and so I was attacked on a personal level by several posters.
A Wasicu college professor from Oregon questioned my motivation, thought I needed to be “looked into.” Because I don’t live on the reservation, I was told to “stay in my lane.” One person said “I think he’s jealous.” What I might be “jealous” of, was never revealed.
The question is, why do people respond this way, instead of addressing the issue of Public Law 280?
People want to talk about people first—in this case, me, the water protectors, tribal leaders, evil presidents, greedy oil companies, and then they want to talk about events, deadlines, announcements, transgressions. The last thing they want to talk about is ideas. Processing the reality beyond our myopic fears and misperceptions and expedient self-interest, is daunting. Most of us want everything dumbed safely down to the level we daily deal with issues, requiring no more mental energy than what it takes to wash the dishes. The people in public life communicating with us this way, we figure they know what they are talking about because they talk to us the way we talk to ourselves.
Socrates wrote long ago: “Strong minds discuss ideas, average minds discuss events, weak minds discuss people.” Let’s apply those words to the responses.
The weak minds went after me as a person. They were alarmed because I questioned the competence of leaders, leaders being people, and the threat of DAPL, an event currently taking place. So, they could handle the people and events, but they completely ignored the idea that something not presently being talked about, Public Law 280, was the issue at hand. Their minds could not go there. It was an idea.
So, for them, I was an outsider, jealous of tribal leaders, in cahoots with the DAPL forces. It made perfect sense to a weak or average mind. They were willing to manufacture this elaborate, yet simplistic misperception of me, rather than just deal with Public Law 280.
So, you can stop wondering why the government and the corporations are always one step ahead of us. The situation in North Dakota is like a rotten onion with many layers. No journalist I know is looking into those layers. There is a narrative that sells, and that narrative is the evil government and corporations against the meddling Indians. There is truth to that narrative, for both sides, but it is not the critical reality.
North Dakota U.S. Congressman Kevin Cramer was an energy advisor to the Trump campaign, he wrote Trump’s energy policy. The 1944 Flood Control Act turned over land to the Army Corps of Engineers. All this land belongs to the Oceti Sakowin, the Sioux Nation, and for the most part, they have refused payment on it — they want the land back. Cramer introduced a bill in Congress last September, to have the Corps land north of the Cannonball River, the land the water protectors camped on, and east of the Missouri River, turned over to the state. Conspicuous in that bill, is a provision which turns over 56,000 acres of Corps land on Standing Rock over to the Tribe. But if that bill passes, Standing Rock will get their acreage, but the Sioux Nation will lose much more. Divide and conquer the weak minded, by appealing to their myopic self-interest, it works just about every time.
This is the threat at hand, threats to tribal sovereignty, threats to take tribal lands legally stolen by the Army Corps in 1944, tribes in bed with DAPL and their energy clients, supporting the water protectors in public, but owning pipeline and shares in the companies that will pump over 75,000 barrels of product through that DAPL pipeline daily.
It would be great if these threats could be staved off by just camping in front of bulldozers. They can’t. The enemies of the Oceti Sakowin expect you to remain ignorant and heedless, distracted by people and events, so you don’t see the idea knife being stuck in your back by some of the people you trust the most.