This Land is Your Land


photo credit: Terray Sylvester

A big part of adulting, I’ve noticed, is having the courage to stand up and speak my mind. (And thanks to the Sopris Sun, I have a monthly column just for that!) I have new ambition in regards to my writing, I’ve decided to pursue my goal of becoming the Ann Coulter of the Left— not in that I want to be scary and ineffectual, but more in the way of bashing down societal walls of conservative intolerance. I would like to see an end to the Jeannie Bueller Syndrome, as I call it (when we care so much about others ditching, that we miss the lesson entirely.)

As a teenager, I never passed up an opportunity to ditch class. There was a little Greek restaurant just a block away from my high school where we could get an egg, hash browns and toast for $1.99, so geometry class could not really compete. That was back when the threat of something going on Your Permanent Record really held some weight. Nowadays, I think, “what permanent record? You mean, like my buying trends as analyzed by Google?”

The last official thing on My Permanent Record happened about a month ago, when I was pulled over for speeding in North Dakota. I was going 73 in a 65, and the officer told my friends to roll up the windows before taking me back to his patrol car, which was a K9 unit. After a small battle of wills, (Perrys have a hard time following orders just for order’s sake) I sat in the passenger seat of his vehicle, but left my door open. And he let me go with a warning, after I assured him that we didn’t have any drugs in the Prius with Colorado plates.

There is a much larger standoff happening still in North Dakota between police and Native Americans. The police are working for Energy Transfer Partners, a Texas-based oil company trying to build a pipeline under the Missouri River. The Standing Rock Sioux, along with many other tribes, have halted construction of the pipeline, demanding a better route that won’t contaminate their water source and desecrate burial grounds. (In much the same way the good Anglos of Bismarck fought against said pipeline going smack through the middle of their town. Of course, the Anglos didn’t have to camp out in a field for months, chain their bodies to the excavating equipment and face arrest by the National Guard.)

The Governor of North Dakota called a state of emergency, which allowed the State Patrol to close roads, and then called in the National Guard to arrest protesters and journalists. This happened after drinking water supplied by the local county was confiscated, and a private security company showed up with mace and attack dogs. Meanwhile Amnesty International has been on the scene to observe local law enforcement and ensure the health and safety of the water protectors.

The mainstream media, whenever they pull their heads out of the black hood that is corporate propaganda, has compared this standoff to the one in the Malheur National Wildlife Refuge earlier this year. But the causes couldn’t be more different. The tribes are protecting their livelihood against a corporation’s illegal actions, while Bundy’s boys were protesting… what exactly? The fact that we have public lands which are managed by the feds? Standing up to a corporation for your right to life, liberty and the pursuit of clean drinking water is not the same as refusing to pay cattle grazing fees. Also, the tribes are not armed to the teeth with guns, ammunition and beer. It’s a sad state of affairs (and a red flag, if you ask me) when there’s more of a reaction from law enforcement to protect the property of a corporation than the United States of America’s land and property.

Imagine if new people came to town, killed most of our families and friends, carved the likenesses of their leaders into Mount Sopris, outlawed Waldorf and Montessori, and then started to drill in the Thompson Divide and build a pipeline up the Crystal. Would we stand our ground, peacefully united, to protect the land and water for future generations?

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