Transcript of the incredibly honest and moving segment by Lawrence O’Donnell that aired Aug 25, 2016 – Rewrite: the Protests at Standing Rock. In just over 4 minutes, Lawrence explains why a protest by Native Americans in North Dakota reminds us of the history America always tries to forget.
“Dakota means friend. Friendly. The people who gave that name to the Dakotas have sadly never been treated as friends.
The people whose language was used to name the Dakotas, Minnesota, Iowa, Oklahoma, Ohio, Connecticut, Massachusetts and other states.
The Native American tribes, the people who were here before us, long before us, have never been treated as friends. They have been treated as enemies, and dealt with more harshly than any other enemy in any of this county’s wars.
After all of our major wars we signed peace treaties. And lived by those treaties. After World War II, when we made peace with Germany, we then did everything we possibly could to rebuild Germany. No Native American tribe has ever been treated as well as we treated Germans after World War II.
Donald Trump and his supporters now fear the country invaded by foreigners who want to change our way of life. A fear that Native Americans have lived with every day for over 500 years.
The original sin of this country is that we invaders shot & murdered our way across the land killing every Native American we could and making treaties with the rest.
This country was founded on genocide, before the word genocide was invented. Before there was a war crimes tribunal in the Hague.
When we finally stopped actively killing Native Americans for the crime of living here before us, we then proceeded to violate every treaty we made with the tribes. Every single treaty. We piled crime on top of crime on top of crime against the people whose offense against us was simply that they lived where we wanted to live.
We don’t feel the guilt of those crimes because we pretend they happened a very long time ago, in ancient history and we actively suppress the memories of those crimes but there are people alive today whose grandparents were in the business of killing Native Americans. That’s how recent these crimes are.
Every once in a while, there is a painful & morally embarrassing reminder as there is this week in North Dakota near the Standing Rock Sioux reservation where hundreds of people have gathered & camped out in opposition to an interstate pipeline being built from North Dakota to Illinois.
The protest is being led by this county’s original environmentalists. For 100’s of years, they were our only environmentalists. The only people who thought that land & rivers should be preserved in their natural state, the only people who thought a mountain or a prairie or river could be a sacred place.
Yesterday a federal judge heard arguments from the tribes, against the federal government’s approval of the pipeline and said he will deliver his decision on whether the pipeline can proceed next month.
There are now over 90 tribes gathered in protest of that pipeline. That protest will surely continue even if the judge allows construction to proceed.
And so we face the prospect next month, of the descendants of the first people to ever set foot on that land, being arrested by the descendants of the invaders who seized that land. Arrested for trespassing.
That we still have Native Americans left in this country to be arrested for trespassing on their own land is testament not to the mercy of the genocidal invaders who seized and occupied their land, but to the stunning strength, and the 500 years of endurance and the undying dignity of the people who were here long before us. The people who have always known what is truly sacred in this world.”
What can you do?