Dakota Access Pipeline Update; Harney Peak Renamed “Black Elk”; U of Winnipeg Starts Indigenous Studies Requirement

A federal court in Washington D.C. heard arguments yesterday regarding the Standing Rock Reservation’s effort to get an injunction against the Dakota Access Pipeline that would carry crude oil from North Dakota’s Bakken fields to Illinois for processing. The pipeline would cross under the Missouri River very near the Reservation’s drinking water intake. A ruling is expected Sept. 9, according to a PBS story. Protests at Standing Rock continue, with the support of many tribes and allies.

Here are a few updates on the story.

  • MSNBC’s Lawrence O’Donnell gave a powerful commentary in support of efforts to block the pipeline, providing the context of the history many people like to forget. Native Americans, he says, have been treated more harshly than any enemy the United States has ever had. “No Native American tribe has ever been treated as well as we treated Germans after World War II,” he said. The video runs about 4 minutes. “… This country was founded on genocide before the word genocide was invented.”
  • Later this month, the Minneapolis City Council’s Intergovernmental Relations Committee will consider a resolution titled: Expressing Solidarity With Indigenous Resistance to the Dakota Access Pipline. Given that 11 of the 13 Councilmembers have signed on as authors, it should pass easily.
  • An earlier blog said that the Diocesan Council of the Episcopal Diocese of North Dakota voted to stand in support of the Standing Rock’s efforts to block the pipeline. There is now a Facebook Page “Episcopalians STAND with Standing ROCK.

Harney Peak SD Renamed “Black Elk Peak”

Black Elk Peak (Wikimedia Commons)
Black Elk Peak (Wikimedia Commons)

Harney Peak, South Dakota’s highest point, has been renamed “Black Elk Peak” by the federal government, according to a story in Indian County Today. The vote by the U.S Board of Geographic Names was 12-0, with one abstention.

South Dakota political leaders had tried to block the name change and expressed disappointment in the decision, but the change is being celebrated in Indian Country. According to the Indian Country Today article:

The name Harney Peak has long been a source of anger and resentment for the Oceti Sakowin [Seven Council Fires] and the various treaty tribes. At the so-called Battle of Blue Water Creek near present day Winnebago, Nebraska, Army Gen. William S. Harney’s men massacred Lakota women and children in September 1855. On that same expedition, a surveyor with Harney’s party named this highest peak east of the Rocky Mountains after the general, though he never came within five miles of the peak.

University of Winnipeg Starts Indigenous Course Requirement For All Students

Here’s an inspiring story out of Canada. After learning about disrespect to indigenous people on campus, students at the University of Winnipeg started efforts to require their peers to learn more about Canada’s First Peoples.

The Guardian wrote about the change in a story headlined: “Canadian universities require indigenous studies“. (Lakehead University in Thunder Bay, Ontario, also is starting an indigenous studies requirement.) According to the Guardian, the University of Winnipeg has 60 courses approved or in development that would fulfill the requirement, “ranging from a course on indigenous people and treaties, to an indigenous women’s history class.”