Monday, August 22, 2016

A Tale of Two Standoffs

On a cold January afternoon in eastern Oregon, Ammon Bundy smiled from beneath his brown cowboy hat at a young, bespectacled reporter before explaining why he and his men had seized a federal building while armed with rifles. “The people need to be in control of their own land and not… have a people… three thousand miles away dictating how their own land works,” Bundy said. He was of course referring to the federal government, which controls and manages up to 80 percent of the land and natural resources in some Western states. Bundy’s occupation stands in stark contrast to the one unfolding in North Dakota at this very moment. There, hundreds of Lakota activists and their allies have blocked the path of the Dakota Access Pipeline, which, if built, would cross the Missouri River just miles above the Standing Rock Sioux Reservation. The pipeline jeopardizes not only the residents’ drinking water, but the water upon which millions of Midwesterners rely. Organizers insist that new protesters enter the site unarmed. These two occupations participate in long-standing traditions of citizen engagement with and resistance to the American government. Bundy claimed that he was standing up for farmers and ranchers who were tired of federal intervention. But the region’s history tells a different story: white settlers have almost always welcomed the state, relying on it to clear the land of the indigenous peoples who lived there...more

No comments: