U.S. Election: The Only Choice Isn’t Just Between The Evil Of Two Lessers

"Our elders," said Tom Goldtooth, executive director of the Indigenous Environmental Network, "told us to focus on praying for the federal agencies and the US government and North Dakota to hear what we were doing and saying: we have to protect the sacredness of the water.” (Photo: Sarah van Gelder)
“Our elders,” said Tom Goldtooth, executive director of the Indigenous Environmental Network, “told us to focus on praying for the federal agencies and the US government and North Dakota to hear what we were doing and saying: we have to protect the sacredness of the water.” (Photo: Sarah van Gelder)

The 2016 U.S. Presidential Election has all but come and gone and the predictable outcome has been limited to a choice between the evil of two lesser candidates, but it needn’t have been or still could be. There actually are/were highly-principled candidates who ran for the presidency but, for all intents and purposes, they remained virtually unknown if not totally invisible during the campaign thanks to the near blackout by the mainstream media who brainwashed the public to believe that a vote for them would have constituted a useless “throwaway”.

Thus, if one were to have polled America’s voters anywhere on Main Street U.S.A in the days leading up to the election and queried them about who these other candidates are or were and what progressive ideas, policies and programs they and their party’s platform stood for and would have put into practice had they been elected, the pollsters would no doubt have received many dull, vacant stares or puzzled “Huh?” or “Who?” responses. The question “Who is Gloria La Riva and Dennis Banks?”, or who is Jill Stein & Ajamu Baraka?” would likely have elicited a flurry of dumbfounded “Dunno’s”. They most probably wouldn’t have had a clue that Presidential candidates Jill Stein and Gloria La Riva, and their Vice-President’s Baraka and Banks, already were on board with the #DAPL Sioux Water Protectors, as they’ve come to be known, and the broader issues of Sovereignty & Decolonization they represent in the current conflict in North Dakota between the Standing Rock Sioux, North Dakota’s government and Wall Street’s Energy Transfer Partners. On the other hand, Donald Trump, Hillary Clinton and Gary Johnson virtually remained tone-deaf during the campaign to the “Ground Zero” importance this conflict represented not only for the election itself but for the future spiritual well-being of us all. Were the majority of people, in the end, to base their vote on principles and conscience rather than on fear, America and the world might still wake up the day after the election to discover there now was a new President Stein or President La Riva and the hope for a much brighter future than what may otherwise be in store up ahead.


For months on end, until only recently, the mainstream media chose to stonewall reporting anything at all about this #DAPL conflict and what it has to do with a multitude of major issues that are germane not only to the United States but the world at large, such as: universal civil and human rights violations; the ever-rising accumulation of wealth by the 1% at the expense of the financial, medical, health and basic social welfare impoverishment of the world’s other 99%; the common desperate plight of the world’s indigenous peoples, especially in the United States and Canada where oil pipeline conflicts have been raging for years and still remain unresolved in bitter contention; climate change and the dangerous tipping point it represents for the continued survival of all species of life on our Mother Earth; the immediate need to put the entire world on a “war-footing” level regarding the rapid conversion from finite fossil fuels to renewable energies, and; the ever-growing militarization of police forces, mounting fascism that is sweeping the world and the death grip that Wall Street has on Main Street.

During the lead up to the U.S. Presidential Election the American voter heard little of these critical universal issues discussed with any depth if at all by either the mainstream media or the evil of two lesser candidates. What was instead foremost discussed and argued about at great length were issues like: which candidate is the most dishonest; or whose worse, the candidate who refused to divulge income tax records that cheated the American government and people out of their just monies, or the candidate who intentionally destroyed tens of thousands of emails from a private computer that revealed, even if the actual details remain hidden, the still unknown extent of the gross political, financial corruption and deceit, or; what foreign government or malevolent world leader was most responsible for intentionally hacking into the American government’s computer files in order to adversely interfere with or criminally manipulate the American electoral process.


The one key issue that might correctly be deemed the most non-debated Core Issue of the 2016 Presidential Election is: the Standing Rock Sioux people and their worldwide allies collective @DAPL UPRISING against the Dakota Access Pipeline. For months, while the evil of two lesser candidates haggled over so many other lesser issues, their more-principled counterpart candidates continually sought, as best they could, in full-face of the media’s wall of silence, to speak to the essence of this American Achilles Heel; aided, all the while, by many freelance journalists in independent and alternative news organizations who worked tirelessly for months – each in our own way, at whatever level and degree both on the ground in North Dakota or at arm’s length if we couldn’t be there – to raise the collective awareness of the voters and world at large about so many of the election’s unspoken critical issues. It was only once those like the journalist Amy Goodman and Democracy Now broached this singular core issue, that it finally began to receive even a modicum of attention by the mainstream media, however late and cursory, that began to raise the general level of world attention enough to force President Obama’s administration, North Dakota Governor Dalyrmple, Wall Street and its Energy Transfer Partners to finally begin to respond to the peaceful prayer protests of the Sioux people and their allies in ways other than through their usual use of brutal, vicious fascistic means.

Meanwhile, in spite of who the American voters now have ultimately decided to put into office, enormous world interest and support will only continue to grow for the plight of the Sioux people as it relates to a multitude of universal issues that won’t go away and will be addressed one way or the other.

As this #DAPL conflict originally began to capture the world’s attention this one undertook to write a series of articles to try to provide for the electorate, as best he could, a deeper understanding and grasp of some of the historical dynamics that are involved in this seminal uprising that is as momentous an event to American and world history today as was the Black Civil Rights Movement in the South back in the 1960’s.


The Sioux hold a special place in this writer’s heart that goes back nearly fifty years when he first became a VISTA Volunteer and went to work on the Crow Creek Sioux Reservation on the Big Bend of the Missouri River in South Dakota. The experience among the Sioux there, and with the white people in the local town of Chamberlain, wasn’t much different than what it might have been like to be suddenly plunked down in the middle of Selma, Alabama in the early 60’s. One of the main differences was that the Sioux weren’t then being lynched like Black people in the South, but they were being murdered none the less. Rather than a hangman’s rope and tree limb being used as props, if certain racists decided to get rid of some uppity Sioux they only had to knock him out, drag him onto the open highway somewhere off the Rez, pour a bottle of booze down his throat and then run over him with a car until he was good and dead. The local investigating authorities would more times than not just write it off as yet another unfortunate accident where still one more poor damn drunken Indian went and got himself killed on the highway; either that or carloads of young white Chamberlain toughie’s would pile into a car with only the driver visible while everyone else lay upon the floor of the car, out of sight. The driver would then drive onto the ‘Rez’ near Fort Thompson and, when one or more Sioux were spotted the driver would make some derogatory, profane remark about Indians and then speed off. The Indians would take the bait and waste little time setting off in pursuit. Once the car race had gone off the Rez, the lone driver would come to a screeching halt on the highway with the Indian’s hot on their tail. The minute they stopped, out would come the tough’s armed with baseball bats, chains, hammers and whatever else they had close at hand to lay into the unsuspecting Sioux. Of course on another night the Sioux would reciprocate in kind. Such was the wild, wild, west way of life in the Dakota’s back then.

That VISTA experience soon was followed by similar experiences while working for Colorado University and living on the Oglala Sioux Reservation at Wounded Knee, South Dakota. The FBI agent who was in charge of the Rez, since it was considered to be a federal government property, was about as racist towards the natives as any imaginable KKK official was towards the Blacks in the old South. At that pivotal moment in history, the Rez, with its right-wing tribal government that was conducting a Reign of Terror against their own people, was about to become yet another hotbed of conflict between the Sioux, and the U.S. Government once the American Indian Movement had shifted its main activities from Minnesota to South Dakota. But it also simultaneously was a hotbed of spiritual activity that began with a Medicine Man’s Sun Dance at Wounded Knee with the likes of Sioux spiritual leaders like Lame Deer (John Fire), Frank Fools Crow, Joe Thunder Hawk and many others in attendance


Today’s current @DAPL protests also brought back many more fond memories of those earlier years while teaching Native American social studies curriculum to the students of the San Francisco United School District. During those early years there came about another enormous milestone protest that, like @DAPL, similarly became the focal point for native peoples, and their non-native allies from all over North American and the world who gathered together with Mohawk leader Richard Oakes to become part of the historic Occupation of Alcatraz where the world would hear Oakes proudly declare, “It’s important that we do this by ourselves. But we’re gonna need all the support you wasicu tribal (non-Indian) brothers and sisters can give us to help us succeed.” It was then, for the first time, that we Wasicu’s who were lucky enough to be there would hear Native Peoples speak of such things as the Turtle Island Manifesto & Hopi Declaration of Peace. On ‘The Rock’ we would hear Archie Fire-Lame Deer, a Lakota Pipe Carrier and son of John Fire, utter his own prayer that declared:

Finally, it is beautiful to be a Red man or woman! Finally, it is beautiful to be a White man or woman! Finally, it is beautiful to be a Black man or woman! Finally, it is beautiful to be a Yellow man or woman! The Red Road of Life! The White Road of Life! The Black Road of Life! The Yellow Road of Life! All are coming here to the center. The center being the center within each of us that links us up with the center of us all, our hearts and our hands joined together as one!

There were so many earth healing ceremonies in those early days, like the Long Walk that began ten years later in San Francisco and ended in Washington, D.C. with those of us from the Wasicu Tribe helping all the native ‘Long Walkers’ as they made their arduous pilgrimage across Turtle Island’s many mountains, plains and rivers, informing all those they met along the way about their desperate plight. So many spiritual lessons were learned, so many spiritual fires lit to sit around and burn sacred tobacco while talking of so many good things by all of us who helped in whatever way we could.

In the years that followed those lived with the Crow Creek Sioux at Fort Thompson, the Oglala Sioux at Wounded Knee and the infamous Siege that ultimately came years later; there were the many trips taken back to San Francisco to try to further raise the consciousness of San Francisco’s students about the historical plight of Native Americans in general.



The efforts of many skilled writers and cinematographers to document the #DAPL conflict already can be accessed through innumerable alternative news sources. This writer’s contributions can be found posted at: www.countercurrents.org/2016/11/02/indian-treaties-oil-pipelines-climate-change-and-election-double-talk/. Still another source can be viewed at: www.truthdig.com/report/item/indian_treaties_oil_pipeines_elections_lies_deception_hypocrisy_2016/10/11). A Counterpunch piece explores the sacredness of the Missouri River that lies at the core of the Sioux Water Protectors protest at: www.counterpunch.org/2016/09/14/a-pilgrimage-among-the-crow-creek-sioux-ancient-missouri-river/), and has since evolved into yet another, entitled, “Connecting With the Native Spirit of the Crow Creek Sioux”. A Google search of that title reveals the marked degree of world interest that has since been raised by this sacred Sioux water issue: www.southamericantimes.com/index.php/sid/247753717). Big News Network, based in Dubai, Arab Emirates, with headquarters in Sydney Australia, also has posted the piece under yet a different title at: www.bignewsnetwork.com/news/248605391/new-us-president-should-recall-lessons-of-sioux-uprising. This title, in turn, has itself morphed into, “The Treaty Traverse des Sioux of 1851; A Lesson in Trickery” that continues to receive a marked degree of interest at such sites as: www.nigeriasun.com/index.php/sid/248605391)

The real danger, of course, in whatever account is to be given of this conflict as it continues to escalate or devolve, is that if a peaceful resolution doesn’t come soon from either President Obama’s administration or that of America’s new President-Elect, it could, itself, end up turning into yet another Wounded Knee-type 1973 Siege scenario with a lot of people getting hurt in the process. Democracy Now’s recent video of a DAPL employee menacingly waving an AK-47 at Sioux Water Protectors before, thankfully, he was peacefully disarmed, is one such early red flag warning.

Always lurking in the shadows of this modern-day Sioux Uprising over DAPL, however peaceful it may be from the Sioux’s side of things, are the not unlike horrendous conditions that ultimately led to the original Sioux Uprising in 1862. As history tells us, that original Sioux Uprising ultimately led to a disaster for the Sioux people and an eternal disgrace for the American people, the Republican government of the day and every other government since.


A poignant footnote to this long ago Uprising some 150 years ago is the fact that it still remains the largest mass execution [sic “premeditated murder”] in U.S. history. A graphic image of those innocent Dakota warriors about to be hung in 1862 can be seen at: www.pinterest.com/pin/331366485055630188/. The photo of the 38 innocent Dakota men who were randomly selected as ‘sacrificial lambs’, out of some 380 choices of warriors ordered to be hung by none other than America’s renowned President Abraham LIncoln himself, visually conveys the horrific tragedy of this illegal act by the U.S. Government.

While researching a book this writer compiled years ago about some of the experiences with the Sioux and other native peoples (“The Wild Gentle Ones; A Turtle Island Odyssey” www. turtle-island-odyssey.com), a reference was discovered to this grisly historical event that should forever remain in conscious awareness as an embarrassment to every American President that already has or yet will be elected.

Those civilian and military observers in 1862 who attended this mass execution described being horrified by the scene which occurred in a huge square with mounted cavalry and foot soldiers in full dress uniform at parade rest, while crowds of curious civilian ‘gawkers’, encircling the perimeter of the scaffold, watched on as the Dakota warriors stood positioned over the trap doors with hangman nooses tightened ‘round their necks and black bags over their heads.

Before the hangmen pulled the levers that simultaneously dropped all the warriors, observers say that each warrior began to sing at the top of his lungs a personal bone-chilling death chant, as old time Sioux Indians once did, to prepare themselves to cross over to meet The Great Spirit of All Things.

It’s said that the eerie sound of their plaintiff collective death chants in their native tongue suddenly cut off as the levers were pulled was totally unnerving to all within ear-shot, causing women, men and soldiers alike to weep while shivers ran up the back of their arms and necks and their hair stood up on end.

So whatever the outcome of #DAPL or the U.S. Election may be, it’s essential that someone, someday, like the famous director Oliver Stone who dramatized the brilliant Howard Zinn book “The Untold History of the United States”, should make a movie of this singular black day in American History. Its photo, as some would say, succinctly speaks to the kind of trickery and betrayal of the U.S. Government and Corporate America that continues to this day as revealed by the current #DAPL Sioux Uprising.

This is such a big story, like so many other “Been There, Done That” in American history, that cries out for America’s ultimate reclamation! America doesn’t need yet another President who is tone-deaf to such issues and what they represent in the greater realm of things.

 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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