Native Americans Ponder on Trump Presidency

By: DiversityWorking Press
Date Posted: November 14, 2016

As Native Americans celebrate the National Heritage Month in this month of November, they also ponder what the future holds for them with Donald Trump as the country's incoming president.

For many, times look bleak. For one, there is the ongoing fight over the North Dakota Oil Pipeline being contested against by the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe.

First, the DAPL (Dakota Access Pipeline) stands on sacred grounds. Then it runs the risk of an oil spill.

According to a report, the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe hired an independent expert, Richard Kuprewicz of Accufacts, Inc., a consulting firm that advises government agencies and industry about pipelines, found that the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers failed to address pipeline safety and the risk the pipeline poses to the waters of Lake Oahe and the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe, which draws its drinking water from that lake. - <a href="">click here</a>

For Native Americans, the land is sacred. It provides them with their daily sustenance, as in this case, precious water.

Spirituality and respect for the environment are values deeply embedded in Native American culture. Their spirituality is the foundation of the Native American value system. Native Americans have deep respect for Mother Earth; it forms part of their spiritaulity. It is a way of being.

A quote expressing this intertwining of spirituality and respect for nature goes: ““Native American isn’t blood; it is what is in the heart. It is the love for the land, the respect for it and for those who inhabit it. It is the respect and acknowledgement of the spirits and the elders. That is what it is to be Indian.”White Feather, Navajo Medicine Man. - <a href="">click here</a>

Hence, the DAPL issue is a serious matter not taken lightly by the Standing Rock Sioux tribe and other Native American tribes in solidarity with them over this.

This is one thing the business or economic side of this venture overlooks. Yet in a piece of news, things seems a bit better. “...President Obama and his spokesman last week [said] that the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers is considering new routes for the Dakota Access Pipeline, the $3.7-billion project aimed at carrying oil from North Dakota fields to existing pipelines in Illinois more safely than on rails or highways.” - <a href="">click here</a>

The same source above also quoted part of a recent editorial by the New York Times: “A pipeline may well be the most profitable and efficient way to move a half-million barrels of crude oil a day across the Plains. But in a time of oil gluts and plummeting oil prices, is it worth it? Is it worth the degradation of the environment, the danger to the water, the insult to the heritage of the Sioux?”

Still, concerns remain. Trump was reported last month as having financially invested in the company, Energy Transfer Partners, which is building the controversial pipeline. In turn, ETP was said to have also contributed to Trump's campaign.

Trump was also vocal in his support for the pipeline as well for reversing Pres. Obama's decision regarding Keystone pipeline.
“Trump spoke against restrictions on energy production as "roadblocks to vital industry infrastructure projects" in a speech in Gettysburg, Pa. "We have roadblocks like you've never, ever seen - environmental blocks, structural blocks," said Trump. "We are going to allow the Keystone pipeline and so many other things to move forwards. Tremendous numbers of jobs and good for our country."” - <a href="">click here</a>

During the campaign, Native Americans did their best to become more involved and visible. A student article from the Northwestern University's Medill Reports in Chicago reported that Native Americans have other concerns aside from the environment, such as “sovereignty, poverty and homelessness in the Native American LGBT community.” - <a href="">click here</a>

Native Americans value respect. “...all of life is sacred: the mountains, lakes, plants, animals, and people. Each has something to teach and all things have a purpose. No person is above another, everyone is equal,” one of the above sources said.

Thus another critical issue is the fact that Donald Trump is widely known for his being a racist, and that he has had a history of regarding Native Americans in bad light.

One report on this aspect of Trump noted:
A community that has long been marginalised has seen outreach and engagement grow significantly in the past eight years under President Obama’s administration. According to Willis, (Nicole Willis, a Native American campaigner and Bernie Sanders’ 2016 Tribal Outreach Director), Trump has shown antipathy to the tribal community in the past. “Donald Trump has a negative history with tribes, and has made negative comments to the media and privately about Native Americans,” she says.
<a href="">click here</a>

CNN reported months ago: When Trump makes cracks against Warren, he uses the Native American community like a whip -- like an inanimate object, or a people dead and gone, not likely to respond.
It may be quintessential Trump, but it's nonetheless offensive and indicative of his skewed perspective on Native Americans today and historically. - <a href="">click here</a>

Native Americans await with bated breath the policies that will issue forth from the White House once Trumps is sworn in.

As one opinion writer said in his article: “Trump came out against tribal sovereignty long before he got into politics. […] Our best hope is that the dismantling of Title 25 of the U.S. Code is so far down Trump’s to do list that he does not reach it. […] Trump’s hostility to environmental regulations and to Indian sovereignty is literal and serious.” - <a href="">click here</a>

But it is hoped that Donald Trump will fulfill his promise of “becoming president of ALL Americans.” It is hoped that the president-elect will not overlook the needs, concerns and the long-cherished values of Native Americans. May the policies he will craft be as inclusive as his speech promised to be: “Now it’s time for America to bind the wounds of division. So all Republicans and Democrats and Independents across this nation, I say it is time for us to come together as one united people.” But as The Washington Post said in its editorial, “His sincerity will be measured by the diversity of his appointments and even more by his words and policies.”

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