October 27: ‘Today Was a Good Day to Fight Back’

Alex Jacobs

Bomani Jones didn’t give the “Hoka Hey, it’s a good day to die,” he was just talking about his show #TheRightTime and the social media response that “Today Was a Good Day” on October 27 because he moved the needle in talking about how racism is acceptable in sports and media. I was surprised something was said on ESPN about Native mascots, logos and Chief Wahoo of the Cleveland Indians playing in the World Series. Jones made points with us when he last wore the Caucasians t-shirt mimicking the Cleveland smiling redface Indian logo, that show drew some satiric response but some folks were actually offended, like “that’s racist, against white people.” Yet that was exactly the point.

On October 27 Bomani said, “Why are you putting that stuff on TV? You don’t have to show that foolishness and racist acting-out because it strips Native people of their dignity. And don’t just put it all on the Chief Wahoo image, because its pervasive, it’s everywhere and supporters defend it all as tradition because they been doing it for a hundred years or so. So does that mean everything from a hundred years ago, like slavery, is still cool too?” He did say teams make money from jerseys and branded gear no matter what’s on them as the imagery is always replaced. He did not go further but we can, that the teams, leagues, advertisers and basically everyone is making money on racist images. But they would still make the same money without them, maybe more.

#NoDAPL may be getting more hits than the World Series to counter Chief Wahoo and the painted up fans who were on network TV with commentators laughing along during the games. But there wasn’t much #NoDAPL and #StandingRock on network TV… until October 27 when it became a Good Day to Fight Back. We all had to wait out this agonizing build up to the confrontation of hundreds of militarized police doing the bidding of oil conglomerate Energy Transfer Partners and North Dakota politicians invested in the pipeline to remove Water Protectors from Highway 1806 and the 1851 Treaty Camp. All for “public safety” as the Water Protectors pushed back and were beaten, tied up, arrested then shipped all around North Dakota. America finally saw all this and flashbacked to the Indian Wars 100 years ago.

Both sides spend their funds as it comes in. Supporters around Indian Country hold benefits to winterize the camps, feed the protectors, support the Legal Defense Fund and send replacement frontline warriors to get arrested in the next go-rounds. The camps spend about $1500-$2000 per day, not counting the legal defenses. AP reported on October 30 that the #NoDAPL camps have raised over $1 million from GoFundMe accounts and a separate legal defense fund raises and spends tens of thousands. North Dakota demanded cash-only bail in the amount of $200,000 for the October 27 arrested protectors, and it was reportedly paid off by an anonymous donor. But it doesn’t stop and they will need more donations to keep the fight going.

North Dakota was spending about $100,000 a day for their militarized police overreaction. The Governor had to call a state of emergency to invoke the Emergency Management Assistance Compact (EMAC), a program used for state-to-state disaster relief and lately in times of riot, but this action involving peaceful protests or non-violent direct actions is unprecedented. North Dakota and DAPL have made white lies about violence and riot to justify invoking this compact. The only incidents have been a DAPL security worker who refused treatment after the attack dog incident, a police officer who shot himself loading a weapon and a drunken officer passed out in his vehicle. Of the 6 states who sent officers, the Wisconsin detachment left after listening to constituent’s concerns. The $6 million in emergency funds that North Dakota requested in-state for its over-reactionary build up has been spent and an additional $4 million was requested and granted on November 1. They hope the Feds will reimburse some of it. Good luck on that.

Standing Rock Tribal Chairman Archambault said North Dakota and DAPL in spending all this money could’ve already re-routed the pipeline if they wanted it finished. This money issue may be escalating violence as DAPL and ETP have promised a Jan 1, 2017 deadline to finish the pipeline and start pumping oil. There is a $1.1 billion loan that can’t be delivered until DAPL/ETP “resolves certain (necessary) government permits”. Citibank is the main pimp coordinating all the other 30+ banks investments, and there must be some worry from investors about the timeline as “Winter is Coming” on many levels. If President Obama and the Army Corps of Engineers have any shred of conscience or dignity, they would halt the project at the Missouri River. If ETP loses this round they are obligated to pull up their pipelines and restore the land back as it was, isn’t it in the contracts they wrote up and shoved in everyone else’s faces?

The protests should also be with banks, investors, corporations and the media. #StandingRock got to Hillary Clinton’s Brooklyn offices and forced a terrible but typical non-answer from her. Clinton’s phrase “allow the workers to do their job safely” goes against what the protests are all about, the safety issue. And when did DAPL become part of the federal infrastructure as she also said? Was it the $600 million in federal tax breaks to sell this cheap, dirty oil overseas which was banned until just last year?

We did not see any Redskins or Chief Wahoo logos at Standing Rock, we did see an admitted Homeland Security exercise that looked more like Iraq or Afghanistan but with belly gut police. Participants said that some police were laughing while doing their duty, just like network commentators yucked it up over faux indian painted up fans. We see where we are at in the country, we see who our allies are and those who remain our adversaries, those that promise but do nothing and those who say they are going to Standing Rock. Meanwhile on TV there’s a visual battle between Chief Wahoo, the commercialized racist images and corporate logos versus the reality of images and video from #StandingRock #NoDAPL #MniWiconi #OcetiSakowin. Somehow this fight has to shed blood in the corporate offices, and I mean money, money has to flow until its red on their carpets and they pull the plug on DAPL. The heart of the black snake is 30 floors up in a corporate boardroom, that’s where it starts and stops.

Alex Jacobs, Mohawk, is a visual artist and poet living in Santa Fe.

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