North Dakota Latest Introduced Bills, and the Scalp Bounty

Sometimes a crucial distinction lies merely on the tactic, and not the sentiment.

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[A bill that state GOP Rep. Keith Kempenich introduced would exempt drivers from liability if they accidentally hit a pedestrian, according to the Bismarck Tribune. House Bill 1203 was written up in direct response to groups of protesters blocking roadways, Kempenich told the paper. He claims protesters were seen jumping out in front of vehicles.

“It’s shifting the burden of proof from the motor vehicle driver to the pedestrian,” Kempenich said. “They’re intentionally putting themselves in danger.

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Another measure would make it a crime for adults to wear masks nearly across the board, while another would allow the state to sue the federal government over millions in extra police costs, according to ABC News.”]  Read the full report | The Huffington Post

Now, let’s draw an analogy (with a practice poorly documented and sensationalized):

[Beginning in the 1830s, two Mexican states (Sonora and Chihuahua) authorized scalp bounties against Apache Indians, but these were as controversial in Mexico as they had been in the British colonies.

In New Mexico and Arizona, the state governments never approved scalp bounties, but some county officials revived and increased the old Apache scalp bounties that had been used by the former Mexican states. A report from the New York Times in 1885 (the most recent source I know of that documents scalp bounties) offers the following passage that shows the mentality of those who justified the practice:

From time immemorial all border countries have offered bounties for bear and wolf scalps and other animals that destroyed the pioneer’s stock or molested his family. Why, therefore, asks the Arizona settler, should not the authorities place a reward upon the head of the terrible Apache, who murders the white man’s family and steals his stock like the wolves?

Some colonial governments in the British North American colonies enacted  scalp bounties early in the 1700s, in the context of war between  Britain and France. They wanted to create an incentive for frontier  settlers to kill Indians who were allied with the French enemy. In  practice, though, colonial Indian killers were careless about the distinction  between “friendly” and “hostile” Indians. As the white population  expanded, so did demand for land, and this was the material motive  behind most killing of Indians, whether sanctioned by authority or not…. ]  Read the full article | Quora

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The Oldest Member of the Standing Rock Reservation

She has lived through every foreign war the United States has participated in, the Great Depression and more than 15 Presidents. She has witnessed some of this country’s most historical pieces of legislation including the Indian Citizenship Act of 1924 and the American Indian Religious Freedom Act of 1978.

Although born in the United States, it wasn’t until she was 16 that she was considered a citizen. And it wasn’t until she was 60 that she was able to legally witness the ceremonies and hear the language of her people. Full story | Indian Country Today

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Photo credit Shane Balkowitsch

North Dakota Did Not Become Alabama – or the Deep North, as it is now called – Overnight

By Winona LaDuke
Special to News From Indian Country and Everybody Else

[Standing Rock is an unpredicted history lesson for all of us. More than any moment I recall since Wounded Knee, the Vietnam War, or the time of Martin Luther King, this moment stands as a crossroads in the battle for social justice. It is also an economic issue, in a time of economic system transformation, and profoundly a question of the future of this land. The world is watching.

For many who come, North Dakota is something unknown. Americans fly over the state, talk about how the movie Fargo was funny, and wonder sheepishly about how it’s working out in the Bakken. Very few visit, and there is almost no civil society to advocate for the environment or the people. Let me put it this way, until this year, the Sierra Club had one staff person in North Dakota, and the American Civil Liberties Union had one staff member covering both North and South Dakota. It is as if North Dakota is just too uncomfortable for a progressive movement to visit or work in. Instead, we have watched.

After all, the sex trafficking, violence, and corruption has overwhelmed most of the state’s capacity to address it, and a recent study by the National Academy of Sciences found widespread groundwater contamination in the fracking fields.   For North Dakotans it has become just how it isThat is to say: accommodating corporations is the North Dakota way.This last year, North Dakota health officials excused more oil spills without penalty, and increased the allowable levels of radiation in municipal and county dumps to accommodate the fracking industry. The corporations direct state policy.]

The Beginning is Near: The Deep North, Evictions and Pipeline Deadlines | Winona LaDuke, for Indian Country Today

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If “Yes” Had a Superlative

7) Be prepared to experience race as the racial minority

I had been in other contexts where I was a racial minority (say Latin America or Nepal), where I was celebrated for my race or at least acknowledged as neutral. This is different on “The Rez”.

The reality is that most whites coming onto native land over the last 100 years have been exploiting, whether intentionally or not, these indigenous communities. Additionally, the last time there was serious activism on these reservations many of the whites trying to get involved were FBI informants. While all races are genuinely invited to all the camps at Standing Rock, as a white person you will find yourself having to prove yourself to be an exception to the rule. Ironically, this is how I imagine what it is like being a racial minority in America in general, where you have to continuously prove yourself to be the exception to stereotypes imposed on you by the majority culture. If you are paying the slightest bit of attention, you will experience what it is like to be a racial minority with an attached sense of “otherness”, and this will likely change how you view the world.

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12 Ways to Be an Effective Ally at Standing Rock

Standing Rock | A Professor’s Plea to Keep this Pure, and Non-Violent | Still…

[Odysseas Elytis | Axion Esti -excerpt]

A lone swallow amidst the precious Spring,
it takes painful labor to turn the Sun,
the dead by the thousands to grind on the wheels,
and the living their blood to shed.

. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 

God, my Master Builder, You too amidst the lilacs,
God, my Master Builder, You too inhaled the scent of Resurrection

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[In the southern heart of North Dakota, we may be witnessing the beginning of a national and international pan-Indian renewal of First Peoples, Indigenous Peoples, Native Americans. Anything that helps rebuild Indian pride, cultural confidence and a firm and solid assertion of Native American rights is a good thing for all of us, for all Americans.It is past time to bring the Two Cultures into legal and cultural parity, and to end the long train of domination by the Recent Americans over the Original Americans.

Still….]

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CLAY JENKINSON: Standing Rock — A Plea To Keep This Pure — And Non-Violent

Reservation Blues | Sex Trafficking for Drugs

[POPLAR, Montana, May 17 (Thomson Reuters Foundation) – Life on the remote Fort Peck Indian Reservation in northern Montana has all the ingredients for sex trafficking – poverty, isolation, joblessness and violence, topped with an epidemic of crystal meth addiction.

Drug users are selling their babies, daughters and sisters for the potent stimulant that is ravaging Native American communities such as the Assiniboine and Sioux tribes living on the desolate plains of Fort Peck, say community leaders, experts and federal authorities.

“We’re in crisis mode,” said Tribal Chairman Floyd Azure. “We have mothers giving their children away for sexual favors for drugs. We have teenagers and young girls giving away sexual favors for drugs.”

No numbers record specific rates of local sex trafficking, which can often be buried in crimes of sexual assault, abuse, prostitution, abandonment or kidnapping. But it is a crime, poorly documented and fuelled by drug abuse, plaguing Indian reservations across the United States.

The rate of meth use among American Indians is the highest of any ethnicity in the country and more than twice as high as any other group, according to the National Congress of American Indians.

The number of drug cases on Indian lands nationwide rose seven-fold from 2009 to 2014, and crime rates on some reservations are five times higher than national averages, according to a federal Drug Enforcement Administration report…..

A harrowing number of victims are trafficked by their own family members.

“Traffickers are not just scary men who drive around in Cadillacs in their leather trench coats,” said Healey.

“A trafficker can be a parent or guardian. A trafficker can be an aunt or an uncle or it can be a boyfriend or another friend.”

The often close relationships between abuser and abused present a web of problems such as forcing victims to leave home for their protection, experts said.

Victims may fear the community and authorities won’t believe them and will instead defend the trafficker, said an Indian Health Service social worker who did not want to be identified.

“Nobody wants to go after a family member,” she told the Thomson Reuters Foundation…..]

Read the full story | Thompson Reuters Foundation Group

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Tribal elder Tommy Christian lives on Montana’s Fort Peck Indian Reservation which is looking for ways to combat issues of drug abuse and sex trafficking, Poplar, Montana, April 28, 2016 | THOMSON REUTERS FOUNDATION/Ellen Wulfhorst