By Beverly Sabourin and Peter Globensky
Since we have both developed a late-in-life allergy to snow and the shoveling of it, we escape to the American southwest and the traditional territory of the Apache for the snowless beauty of the desert and the ‘sky-island’ mountains. While here we have encountered more than a few Americans traumatized by the unexpected election of a temperamentally ill-equipped and far-right conservative billionaire as their president. Considering his current approval ratings, thousands now suffer from BR or ‘Brexit-Redo’, an affliction where voters sorely regret who or what they voted for. Manifesting early signs of PTSD, many have expressed interest in immigrating to Canada. That interest was so intense on election night the volume of immigration inquiries from American citizens caused the Canadian Immigration website to crash!
So welcome to TrumpWorld, and as many have already deduced, his first three weeks on the job have not inspired confidence. He continues to refuse to release his tax returns. His vast business empire and existing and potential conflicts of interest have severely compromised his ability to put America first, ahead of his own financial well-being. Consider his Twitter addiction where he is constantly defending his paper-thin skin, the now infamous “wall”, the ban on Muslims. Consider the judicial reversals of his ill-timed Executive Orders, the chaos in his inexperienced inner circle of advisers. Consider his nomination of swamp-filling Wall Street billionaires and climate change deniers to his cabinet, or his foreign policy blunders with a half-dozen nation-states. Consider his habitual scorn of judges, his invention of “alternative facts, walk-backs and re-explanations”. The progress of his presidency so far has been a cascade of ineptitude. This has made his bizarre and hurtful nomination campaign almost look like a model of respect, decency and restraint compared to his disastrous and chaotic first few weeks.
But bear with us, for it is only going to get worse! Amidst all of the Orwellian Newspeak and regrettable decisions rendered by Trump, there are four ominous and potentially dangerous Executive Orders, all of which will continue to generate massive protests and on-going resistance. The first of these is the Executive Order repealing the Dodd-Frank financial regulations. Congress enacted them following the 2008 financial meltdown to curtail the avarice and reckless speculation of the Wall Street banksters who almost gifted us with a new, Greater Depression. The second is the Trump and male-led eventual “defunding” of the Planned Parenthood Federation, an organization which has been at the vanguard of women’s health and reproductive rights in America. The Washington March proved that millions of women in America and around the world were not impressed. The third is his chaotic mishandling of the “immigration ban”.
However, the Executive Order which will very likely produce the most profound consequences is the Trump decision to proceed with the construction of the Energy Transfer Partners’ Dakota Access Pipeline through the Ancestral Lands of the Standing Rock Sioux Nation. This reverses the December 2016 Obama decision to halt that construction following proof of a demonstrable threat to the water supply of the Sioux Nation and the destruction of sacred sites. Despite two treaties, Sioux land has been expropriated by the manifested destiny of previous US administrations – not a surprise in a country that has broken or ignored over 300 such treaties.
Beginning in early 2106 and galvanized by the courage of the Standing Rock Sioux Nation and Elder LaDonna Brave Bull Allard who established the first resistance camp in the proposed pipeline route, thousands of Indigenous peoples from across North America travelled to the beleaguered but unbowed Sioux Nation. They have become the frontline of a growing resistance movement to the Energy Transfer Partners’ Dakota Access Pipeline. The encampment has been harassed, bullied and intimidated by private and public security, attack dogs, water cannons and multiple arrests. Despite this, the resistance movement has gathered worldwide support. This has included both Indigenous and non-Indigenous American veterans, willing again to lay down their lives this time for a different nation!
What is ominous in all of this is not Donald Trump’s previous partial ownership of Energy Transfer Partners’ or the continuing addiction to fossil fuels which the pipeline will ensure. It is the extent to which the President and his pipeline proponents, their financial backers and the over-eager politicians have gravely underestimated the spiritual and cultural attachment the Sioux have to the land. This coming confrontation promises a collision of two world views. One which values material progress at all costs, the other which holds that such progress must not be achieved through the destruction of the natural environment. If Trump and the corporate powers-that-be miscalculate the Sioux’s allegiance to the latter and to their determination to protect Mother Earth, that folly may very well lead to blood on the land.