by Chris “Kikila” Perrin, Underground Reporter:
There is an ongoing clash in what is known as North Dakota; an event that is more than simply a protest, it is an intersection of many different ideas and values that transcend the issues that appear to be at the fore: water, land, and oil.
One of the unfortunate side-effects of this growing intersection is that the deeper meaning, the long-standing issues that have contributed to the confrontation, are being ignored and therefore forgotten by the press, and by those who rely on the popular media for information.
By framing discussions and reporting of the Dakota Access Pipeline and water protectors from the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe and their supporters as a legal question, the mass media not only overlooks the colonial and assimilatory aspect of such arguments, they actively participate in them.
That a definable rule of law, as codified by a judicial body and overseen by agents of that body (often a police force), is universal and therefore universally applicable, let alone fair, is a colonial construction.
As actions in and around Cannon Ball escalate, there is a growing discussion in the popular press as to the legality of these actions. Treaty rights, private property, and violations like trespassing have all become central issues to how the grievances of the Water Protectors and their allies are being portrayed, particularly on the ground, ignoring the very idea that the imposition of a colonial legal structure is, by its very imposition, an act of colonization.
Pre-Columbian North Americans were not a lawless group, despite such portrayal. Nor are their descendants. What was at issue during the early stages of colonization was the inability for Euro-North American governments to recognize indigenous concepts of law (Sally Falk Moore, Law as Process: An Anthropological Approach (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2000), Introduction).
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