Gingrich Plays the “Scalp” Card, the Metaphor that Wouldn’t Die

Have you ever seen a picture of an Indian getting scalped by a settler or soldier? We know it happened a lot. Why don’t we ever see that image or read about it?

That question came to mind reading a story from The Hill, headlined: Gingrich: Somebody probably going to jail over Russia investigation. In the story, former House Speaker Newt Gingrich compared those investigating the Russian ties in the Trump administration to an “Indian hunting party.”

“This is like watching an old-fashioned Western movie. This is an Indian hunting party,” Gingrich said. “They’re out looking for a couple scalps, and they’re not going to go home until they get some.”

It’s a 19th Century metaphor that won’t go away. His career grinding to a halt, I guess former House Speaker Gingrich is trying to stay in the spotlight by being controversial. But what a bizarre image to conjure up. It denigrates Native Americans as savage. It makes the investigators asking tough questions seem savage. It makes high-powered politicians under investigation seem like helpless, brutalized victims.

The use of the “Scalps” metaphor requires a quick Public Service Announcement on the matter. This was not a uniquely Native American practice. In fact, it was the settlers’ free enterprise idea of paying for scalps that accelerated the practice. Continue reading

Lawsuits Being Readied Against North Dakota Law Enforcement, and More Stories from Indian Country Today

I spun through Indian Country Today’s news page for the past few days — so many good stories. They include articles on:

  • Lawsuits that will be pressed against law enforcement for the excessive force used against the water protectors near Standing Rock.
  • How a Native American water protector got an electoral vote for U.S. President.
  • Canada’s efforts to take action on its Truth and Reconciliation Commission, and
  • How stopping one oil pipeline is winning a battle, not the war.

Below is a quick summary of each article and links to the full text. (And consider bookmarking Indian Country Today on your browser.) Continue reading

#NO DAPL Syllabus Project and Other DAPL Resources and Updates

The NYC Stands for Standing Rock committee and Public Seminar are developing a syllabus around the Dakota Access Pipeline (DAPL) conflict in an effort to put it in its broader historical and social context.

According to the #NODAPL Syllabus Project website, one of its goals is to “launch a syllabus project to contextualize DAPL within Sioux and settler history so that those who seek a deeper understanding of the territory and the conflict might learn and teach.” Continue reading

Update: Dakota Access Pipeline Protest

Here is an update to yesterday’s blog outlining the current protest against the Dakota Access Pipeline at the Standing Rock Reservation.

Today, a federal court in Washington D.C. will hear a suit brought by the Standing Rock Reservation seeking an injunction against the pipeline. There is no guarantee the judge will issue a ruling today, and regardless of the outcome, the losing side most likely will appeal.

Indian Country Today ran an exclusive interview with Standing Rock Sioux Chairman David Archambault II on the suit. He said:

What I think is that all of our Nations have been faced with wrongs—usually projects like this where tribes don’t have the opportunity to have any consultation on something that will affect their homelands. We are never afforded the protection that the companies are afforded when they get their easements. Tribes across this nation are continually paying the costs for the benefits or gains of others. …

This pipeline is making its way through our territory—even though there was an alternative route north of Bismarck, until someone claimed that they are concerned with safe drinking water for that community. They rerouted it north of Standing Rock. We complain too, because we’re concerned for our future generations and their drinking water. They don’t listen.

Pastor Joan Conroy (Oglala Sioux Tribe), President of the American Indian/Alaska Native Lutheran Association, issued the following statement: Continue reading

Native American Allies, Churches, and the United Nations Asked to Help Stop the Dakota Access Pipeline

Native Americans and their allies are coming from across the country to support the Standing Rock Reservation’s efforts to block construction of the Dakota Access Pipeline, a 1,172 mile long pipeline that would carry crude oil from North Dakota’s Bakken fields to Illinois for processing.

As tensions rise, they are asking for more help, from church people to the United Nations.

One of the key issues is that the pipeline will run under the Missouri River just one mile from Standing Rock Reservation’s drinking water intake. The pipeline threatens their drinking water and also will run through sacred sites, opponents say. (The reservation straddles the North Dakota-South Dakota border towards the west.)

Several thousand people are estimated to have joined the growing protest at Standing Rock, called the “Camp of the Sacred Stones.” The gathering has triggered a strong reaction by the state. According to the Bismarck Tribune, in a story headlined: “State pulls relief resources from swelling Dakota Access Pipeline protest camp,”

North Dakota’s homeland security director ordered the removal of state-owned trailers and water tanks from the Dakota Access Pipeline protest campsite Monday, citing mounting reports of unlawful activity …

… the loss of their main drinking water supply came as a blow and sent local officials scrambling to find an alternative water source.

Those organizing the protests maintain they are peaceful.

The Indigenous Environmental Network has appealed for national and international human rights observers and church leaders to come and witness. Continue reading