Dear President Obama

Harlan McKosato

I know you are certainly aware of what is going on in North Dakota with the Dakota Access Pipeline and the NODAPL movement by Native Americans. I am requesting that you make a public statement recognizing the Native people who are protesting the construction of the crude oil pipeline through the Standing Rock reservation in North Dakota.

I know your administration recently announced the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers “will not authorize constructing the Dakota Access pipeline on Corps land bordering or under Lake Oahe” until they review it under the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA). “Therefore, construction of the pipeline on Army Corps land…will not go forward at this time.” But that is only temporary.

Cheers and drum beats went up from the campers at the Sacred Stone Lamp last Friday (Sept. 9) when, after a federal district court ruled against an injunction filed by the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe, a joint statement was issued minutes later by the Department of Justice, Department of Interior and the U.S. Army Corps to halt construction. The North Dakota National Guard, in riot gear, was close by eyeing the Native people’s reaction just in case.

I have a couple of questions Mr. President. Have you been at the White House lately? The reason I ask is because along the campaign trail in ’08 when you were adopted by a Crow family and given a Crow Indian name (One Who Helps People Throughout the Land), and during your first tribal consultation meeting I believe, you said that each day that you were in the White House you’d be thinking about your new “Native brothers and sisters.”

What happened to that promise? I know you have a lot of issues around the world on your plate, but this one is right here in America’s backyard (the Dakotas) and it needs your attention as well. The protest movement is growing and is not going to disappear anytime soon. Its main message that “Water is Life” is spreading across the country and abroad. It is time for you to make a statement, and perhaps your wife Michelle as well, to show support for your adopted Native people who are counting on your support to stop the pipeline from putting their water supply in jeopardy and desecrating more sacred grounds.

I know the fracking at the Bakken oil fields near Turtle Mountain (Ojibwe) lands has produced literally a billion barrels of crude oil from the region and offered economic relief for a part of the country desperately in need of it. But the Energy Transfer Crude Oil Co. and Dakota Access, their subsidiary, should have had the foresight to properly consult with tribes and they could have possibly avoided this showdown at Standing Rock.

We need to know where you stand President Obama. The Native people are gearing up to stay in the camps for the harsh Dakota winter if need be. I know my Native brothers and sisters – very stubborn in standing for what they believe in. I also know big corporations are very arrogant and stubborn about protecting their investments and their long term bottom line profits. They will keep pushing. There’s no doubt they wanted to have this project finished by winter time. It’s not going to happen.

I only see three ways to end this standoff at Standing Rock — one is not pretty. The North Dakota National Guard might be champing on the bit trying to relive their great, great grandpas’ stories about fighting with the wild Indians. I implore you, Mr. President, to do everything within your power to keep this scenario from taking place. That would be another tragedy and sad story in U.S. history and our Native people. I am hoping and praying the protestors will stay peaceful even when provoked.

I understand there is a pipeline in Patoka, Illinois, that can distribute the crude to other refineries in the Midwest (including a refinery in Oklahoma), to the East Coast, to the Lake Superior refinery in Wisconsin and even to the Gulf Coast of Texas. But the people at the Standing Rock protest don’t care about all that. They just don’t want to see their reservation lands, the water, put in the cross-hairs of peril. Rail and truck distribution across the Missouri must be considered.

Finally, Mr. President, you can keep your promise to your “Native brothers and sisters” and sign an executive order that will put this to rest until your actual presidency comes to an end in January and save people another winter of hardship and tragedy in Dakota land. It is time. Aho.

Harlan McKosato is a citizen of the Sac and Fox Nation of Oklahoma. He is the Director of NDN Productions, an independent media production company based in Albuquerque.

You need to be logged in in order to post comments
Please use the log in option at the bottom of this page




turbojesus's picture
Dear Peasant, You can’t expect me to feel sorry for every ant I step on or swerve to avoid every fly hitting my windshield. I mean really how many atrocities have been done to get me where I am today? If the world was just, do you think that native americans- whom some are orphans that live on a reservation without running water and electricity, with ten brothers raised by one grandparent because the other was murdered for being indian married to a white woman and live off the wage of a cook, would not be the first people to be raised up or defended as they have no representation in any form in most major cities? My only goal is to cut you down which is why I’m more concerned about insurance companies, transgender bathrooms, gay marriage, antisemitism, portents, refugees, and mexicans rather than you getting justice, education, healthcare, or decent jobs. Signed O BAM A