#DAPL: A Thanksgiving Day 2016 Open Letter To President Barack Obama

Water protectors stand tall and remain peaceful while law enforcement soaks them with water cannons in below-freezing temperatures. (Photo: Tara Houska/Twitter)
Water protectors stand tall and remain peaceful while law enforcement soaks them with water cannons in below-freezing temperatures. (Photo: Tara Houska/Twitter)

Mr. President

I am writing to you on this sad day of Thanksgiving in response to the despicable, un-American conduct of Governor Jack Dalrymple of North Dakota, North Dakota’s state police, the United States representatives for the Department of Homeland Security, Department of Justice, North Dakota’s National Guard, your administration and you personally, as well, sir for what all is intentionally being allowing to happen at this moment with the greatest of malice towards the Standing Rock Sioux peoples Sacred Water Protectors in North Dakota.

Your weak, spineless decision to “let things play out” is making a mockery of their honorable #NODAPL Protest that is urgently being carried out on behalf of all of us in the world who are deeply-concerned about so many critically-important things that need to be squarely addressed, like: the need to take seriously the human-caused effects of climate change; the need to rapidly convert from fossil-fuels to renewable energies; the need to listen and respond to the spiritual message of survival that Native Americans, and indigenous peoples from around the world, have to give to the corporate, globalized world. They are our collective conscience speaking truth to power. The message of #NODAPL is as important to the human race as is any political-spiritual movement ever led by the likes of Mahatma Gandhi, Nelson Mandela or Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. What is instead happening is making an utter mockery of your presidential legacy. It besmirches everything good that America and the Office of the Presidency is supposed to represent.

There is no need to belabor the many outstanding grievous violations at hand regarding the: long-standing abrogation of the Standing Rock Sioux’s treaty rights; violations of their human and civil rights under the U.S. Constitution & Bill of Rights; a multitude of violations under the United Nation’s Charter of Rights; not to mention the shameful effrontery against simply common human decency.

Mr. President, you are now, as they say, a lame duck president who no doubt at this point in your presidency is concerned about salvaging for posterity what little positive legacy may in fact be left to salvage from some of the very darkest of moments that already have passed into the history books during your term in office. But the last straw in any hope of salvaging that legacy is the way in which you now have chosen to turn a blind eye towards the young Sioux Water Protectors and their allies who, for months, have been mercilessly assaulted by military water cannons, sound cannons, flash grenades, Taser, Mace, Pepper Spray and all manner of other military weaponry and insult to their humanity while you, sir, simply continue to sit passively behind your Oval Office desk and “wait to see how things play out!”. Are you now, sir, simply cynically taking orders from Wall Street’s energy sector CEO’s, like Kelcey Warren of Energy Transfer Partners, who are prepared to take whatever outrageous steps are necessary, even murder, to get their Dakota Access Pipeline built at all costs to human life and our Mother Earth?

History will be the ultimate judge of your actions and how you decide to respond to this crisis. In this one’s humble opinion, it will prove to be one of the greatest, if not the greatest, moral and ethical crisis of your entire term in office as it was some 150 years ago for President Abraham Lincoln when he, too, failed the test in his moment of truth to do the right and honorable think on behalf of the Sioux people.

President Lincoln failed to honorably respond to the Sioux Uprising in Minnesota in 1862, and instead condemned to death 38 innocent Dakota warriors out of the 303 who were condemned to death by a military commission that was no better than a kangaroo court. Back then, Lincoln also caved to the blood-lusting desires of avaricious European settlers and corporate forces that coveted the sacred lands of the Sioux Nation for their own nefarious ends. Lincoln’s decision to simply allow 38 innocent Sioux warriors to be chosen at random still stands out as one of America’s greatest days of infamy and still holds the embarrassing distinction of being America’s greatest mass execution in history.

But now there exists the very real dire possibility that you and your Presidency will eclipse even Abraham Lincoln’s long ago day of infamy if you allow a continuation of the manifest injustices that are being perpetrated against the Sioux Water Protectors. Already hundreds have been seriously injured by Water Cannons indiscriminately pummeling them in the freezing-cold wintry conditions on the plains and prairies of North Dakota. If allowed to persist many more than 38 innocent Dakota warriors will no doubt die in the end. When this happens, as it most assuredly will if allowed to continue to deteriorate in the direction things are going, anti-American scholars, Native American and environmental activists and decent people from around the world will surely have a field day bemoaning your memory and that of your Presidency.

In another, earlier, rough-and-tumble historical period of time, as in Abraham Lincoln’s day, some ordinary citizen like myself would simply walk up to the White House and call you outside to go “behind the barn”, as it were, and settle things there. Oh, but if only things were that simple once again!

Please, Mr. President, put an end to the monstrosity of all this. Declare a stop to the Dakota Access Pipeline ever being finished. Make this day truly a day of Thanksgiving for our Native American brethren and the rest of us.

Respectfully yours,

Jerome Irwin

Irwin Jerome: Author’s Bio Note: During the 1960’s and early 70’s Irwin lived with the Dakota and Lakota peoples on the Crow Creek Sioux & Oglala Sioux Reservations in South Dakota and later published the book, “The Wild Gentle Ones; A Turtle island Odyssey” (www.turtle-island-odyssey.com) that documents their historical plight and those of other indigenous peoples on Turtle Island.

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