Published June 2, 2017
This Memorial Day, as I remembered both the brave warriors who lost their lives in defense of both our Lakota way of life and those that lost their lives in defense of the democratic principles of the United States, I was also forced to confront a disturbing reality about this country we live in.
On May 27, 2017, The Intercept published a report on TigerSwan, the international private security firm paid by Dakota Access to use military-style tactics to invade, surveil, infiltrate and destroy the peaceful and prayerful water protector movement at Standing Rock—a movement of indigenous people and our allies who stood strong exercising our sacred Constitutional freedoms in defense of our Grandmother Earth. The Intercept reported that the counter-terrorism mercenary group called my people “an ideologically driven insurgency with a strong religious component” that “generally followed the jihadist insurgency model.”
Worst of all, the documents show that TigerSwan partnered in its efforts with county, state, and federal law enforcement to fight my people. While I was not too surprised to see Morton County and North Dakota treating Indian people as terrorists, I was sickened to see that the FBI, including a National Security Intelligence Specialist, the Department of Justice, the U.S. Marshal Service, the Department of Homeland Security, and the Bureau of Indian Affairs teamed up with the DAPL mercenaries to target my people.
I am disgusted and angry that the federal government, which owes Indian people a solemn trust duty, has once again betrayed us to protect money and private industry. The Bureau of Indian Affairs exists to protect and serve Indian people. And this country is OUR homeland.
But the United States hasn’t just betrayed the Indians, it has betrayed us all because when this government treats peaceful protesters exercising their First Amendment freedoms as terrorists, it is betraying the U.S. Constitution. It is betraying the most basic ideas on which this nation was founded. And it’s a betrayal that is amplified by an administration that worships and adores foreign dictators and values money, maza ska, more than our own Grandmother Earth, Unci Maka.
The United States has spent its whole existence trying to wipe us out. They have killed us, stolen our land, stolen our children, polluted our environment, and tried to destroy our culture. But in 240 years, it hasn’t succeeded. We’re still here, we’re not going anywhere, and we’re not giving up.
So, TigerSwan, FBI agents, BIA agents, Homeland Security, DOJ, and the U.S. Marshals, if you’re listening (and I know now that you are):
You can’t kill our faith and our mission to protect this earth with surveillance, intimidation, and propaganda. We’re stronger than that, and we’re stronger than you.
We will keep exercising our Constitutional rights in protest, in prayer, in the courts, and in the halls of Congress to protect our rights and the rights of Grandmother Earth. And while you are wrong about so much, you’re right about one thing. It doesn’t end at Standing Rock. The Lakota people will oppose pipelines, assaults on our sovereignty, violations of our treaties, and attacks on our children, our lands, and resources forever.
Harold Fraizer is the chairman of the Cheyenne River Sioux Tribe.
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