Published May 31, 2016
BILLINGS, MONTANA – “Harold Hamm, are you here? Harold, where the hell are you?” called Donald Trump from the podium during his recent performance in Billings, Montana. “Oh, he’s got money. He knows more about energy in his finger than these other people,” Trump boasted of Hamm and his credentials.
Hamm is the undisputed fracking king of the Bakken, who helped compile the presumptive GOP nominee’s energy policy speech delivered at the Williston Basin Petroleum Conference in North Dakota prior to his Montana campaign stop.
“Nearly a quarter of oil production in the state comes out of our reservation lands,” advised Three Affiliated Tribes Councilman, Kenneth Hall, who later confirmed that Trump omitted to mention the tribes during his address.
Trump’s plan proposes to increase fossil fuel extraction while eliminating environmental protections. Central to Trump’s proposals are promises to “cancel the Paris climate agreement,” kick start the Keystone XL Pipeline that has been vehemently opposed by tribes, and to rescind Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) regulations introduced during the Obama Administration to reduce emissions from coal-fired power plants.
Trump made his intent clear to reignite domestic extractive industries, central to which is Harold Hamm’s fracking empire, which is currently in hiatus. On the Fort Berthold Indian Reservation of the Three Affiliated Tribes, crime tripled with the advent of the Bakken. Where once smallpox ravaged the Mandan, Hidatsa and Arikara, the latest shadow of death is heroin and methamphetamine, introduced by dealers who supply the Bakken. “Ever since we’ve had the oil industry enter,” begins tribal member Kandi Mossett, “we’ve had violence against women increase by 168 percent, particularly in the area of rape.” Mossett, a leader of the Indigenous Environmental Network, is supported in her assertions of endemic sexual violence resulting from the Bakken’s “man camps.” Federal investigators identify the Bakken as a key destination for human sex trafficking, with victims as young as thirteen.
Councilman Hall revealed that the tribes submitted a request to meet with Trump prior to his energy policy rollout, but Trump’s campaign failed to respond. Trump’s snub to tribes stands in contrast to the approaches of both Senator Bernie Sanders and Secretary Hillary Clinton.
During recent campaign stops in Indian Country, Senator Sanders met with tribal leaders in South Dakota and delivered a speech on the Pine Ridge Indian Reservation, while President Clinton, on behalf of the Secretary, met with the Rocky Mountain Tribal Leaders Council (RMTLC), President Begaye and Vice President Nez of the Navajo Nation, and representatives from GOAL Tribal Coalition, currently one of the largest tribal organizations in North America. Senator Sanders and President Clinton discussed green economic initiatives with the tribal delegations, and supported GOAL’s effort to stop the ESA delisting and trophy hunting of the grizzly bear in Yellowstone on religious, cultural and legal grounds.
“One of the most important lessons the Native Americans have taught this entire country is that all of us are part of nature. We have to live in nature, coexist with nature, and if we destroy nature, we are ultimately destroying the human beings of this planet,” said Senator Sanders.
“Hillary will continue to stand for Tribal sovereignty and in support of Tribal resources and sacred sites. She is committed to strengthening and building on the government-to-government relationship between the United States and Indian tribes, and believes the United States should fulfill its treaty obligations and trust responsibilities,” the Secretary’s campaign affirmed.
“Tribal sovereignty isn’t something Mr. Trump get’s to decide on,” says GOAL Chairman David Bearshield. Tribal sovereignty was recognized by the US Supreme Court in the Marshall Trilogy, beginning with Chief Justice John Marshall’s opinion in Johnson vs. McIntosh (1823). Marshall subsequently opined on the federal Indian trust responsibility, which remains a legally enforceable fiduciary obligation to protect treaty rights, lands, resources, and to honor mandates of federal law with respect to tribes. Treaties are enshrined in the Constitution as “the supreme law of the land.” “Mr. Trump might want to start reading more and Tweeting Mussolini less,” adds Bearshield.
Trump’s only reference to tribes during his press conference was when he referred to Senator Elizabeth Warren as “Pocahontas.” When Robertson, who was in the Three Affiliated Tribes delegation, interjected “very offensive,” Trump mockingly apologized, and immediately repeated “Pocahontas” in his screed against Warren.
While doing the media rounds Memorial Day weekend, Trump campaign manager, Corey Lewandowski, said Trump’s list of potential picks for Vice President is “very small.” Rumored to be on it is Montana Congressman Ryan Zinke, who introduced Trump in Billings. “Where the hell is he, my man!” Trump bellowed as he took the podium, calling for Zinke, who had warned the Trump faithful that Hillary Clinton couldn’t be trusted and would be “a disaster” for national security. A former Navy SEAL, Zinke was once widely criticized in Montana’s press for fundraising emails that suggested he played a role in the killing of Osama bin Laden. Zinke had retired from the military three years before the Abbottabad raid.
Like Trump, Zinke has been charged with using racial stereotypes, something the presumptive GOP nominee routinely dismisses as “political correctness.” Zinke told Republicans in Helena that “nowhere” is “the dependence on the government more apparent” than on Indian reservations. “You go back to, you want to feed someone, you need to teach a person how to fish,” Trump’s possible VP said in summary of his solution to poverty on reservations in Montana. The state’s Democratic Party charged that Zinke’s comments “belittle” Native Americans. “We want a Congressman who will stand up for our culture and values; who will fight for our sovereignty,” retorted James Steele Jr., President of the Montana Indian Democrats Council. “Zinke will continue siding with corporate special interests instead of tribal communities,” he forecast.
“We talked about it, but he has not made up his mind,” clarified Zinke on being Trump’s Veep. “Montanans are beginning to wonder if Ryan Zinke ever plans to focus on being our Congressman. Clearly, the answer is no,” responded Superintendent of Public Instruction and Democratic candidate for Zinke’s seat, Denise Juneau. Presently, only two of 535 members of Congress identify as Native, and, if elected, Juneau would be a third. Juneau is Mandan-Hidatsa and grew up in Browning on the Blackfeet Reservation. In 2008, she became the first Native woman in the US to be elected to an executive statewide office. Juneau is the first openly gay candidate to run for Congress in Montana. “I would say everything about Denise Juneau’s historic candidacy speaks to what makes America great. Trump doesn’t need to ‘Make America Great Again’; his slogan is a dog whistle for ‘Make America White Again,’” says GOAL’s Bearshield.
“Trump needs to work with Native Americans on a nation-to-nation basis. You have to commit and you have to consult with the original people of this land,” summarized Robertson after Trump announced his energy platform. Strengthening consultation mandates has been a cornerstone of GOAL’s campaign to protect the grizzly and the two million acres of land that could be open to extractive industries if the bear loses federal protections.
“Saying you care about Native issues, the environment, climate change, and the delisting and trophy hunting of grizzly bears, but that you still intend to vote for Trump, is akin to saying that you oppose the death penalty, but advocate for the electric chair,” concludes GOAL’s Co-Founder, R. Bear Stands Last.
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This BBSNews article originally appeared on Native News Online.