HARD

If tears become letters and days turn to pages,
then how would you read his 30 days HARD labor
for fishing
on a lake
Superior
in size, depth, clarity and stock?

30 pages: no novel, just a long chapter.
What filled his kids’ bellies? Not fish that their dad caught
by fishing
on a lake
Superior,
while he worked HARD in the chains.

30 eagles swoop down and catch fish with talons.
Carry them to high nests and fill eaglets’ bellies
through fishing
on a lake
Superior.
Bites HARD: Birds eat while children starve.

Dedicated to the memory of John Blackbird, an Ojibwe arrested in 1901 for fishing with nets in Bear Trap Creek deep inside reservation lands that border Lake Superior, though some state histories record that he was arrested fishing on the lake. Either way, he was within his rights established through treaties with the U.S. Government.

He served 30 days HARD labor after refusing to pay a $36.75 fine. His case was eventually heard in U.S. Federal Court, the first challenge to a long battle in Wisconsin over the recognition of Indian Nation hunting and fishing rights established through treaty with the Federal Government. The Federal Court overturned the state decision in Blackbird’s favor in a ruling that honored negotiated rights with the Ojibwe Nation. The battle for the recognition of Native American treaty rights and the protection of their lands and resources continues to be fought across America today, eating up precious dollars that would be better utilized to improve the lives of these people in some of the poorest places in this country. Bites HARD.

Words and Photography ©2016 Tanya Cliff ~ to contact me

Posted in poetry, noDAPL & human rights. Bookmark the permalink.

~

For background on the Dakota pipeline controversy, read: my post from 09/09/2016

Update: Late Friday afternoon, a Federal Court judge ruled against the Dakota tribes, allowing the bulldozing to continue. The Obama Administration quickly stepped in, blocking construction on the portions of the pipeline that cross federal lands, at least temporarily protecting the Missouri River where it enters the Standing Rock Reservation and ancient Sioux burial grounds in the area.

http://www.reuters.com/article/us-usa-pipeline-nativeamericans-idUSKCN11F2GX

Bites HARD:

http://www.democracynow.org/2016/9/10/breaking_arrest_warrant_issued_for_amy

img_4925

Bulldozers, Biting Dogs and Pepper Spray: Brotherly Love, American Style

The fight is endless. Indian Nations have standing treaties with the United States Federal Government, protecting their lands and ancestral grounds and providing assurances for self-governance among other things. They are not subject to state law. Tell that to the states. For more than 100 years, the Indian Nations across America have been forced to fight costly legal battles on a multitude of fronts often against the states their reservations exist on.

Forcing a people to endlessly defend their treaty rights up to Federal Court saps funds that could otherwise be used to build desperately needed infrastructure, improved housing, education and basic human services in some of the poorest places in America. Instead of allowing them to use their resources to better ends, we force battles that put the children’s bread in the hands of lawyers.

The latest front in this ongoing war is the development of a pipeline from the Bakken Oil fields in North Dakota southeast to Illinois. Indian Nations have already successfully fought to keep this pipeline off their lands in Minnesota. Tribes in North and South Dakota are now taking up the fight to protect their treaty rights and precious resources. Impacting this case directly are environmental threats to the Missouri River, the only supply of water feeding the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe in North Dakota. The original proposed route of the pipeline would have crossed the Missouri River 10 miles north of Bismark, the capital of the state of North Dakota. It was rejected on the grounds of potential threats to that area’s water supply. The current dig is occurring just one half mile from the Standing Rock Reservation. The hypocrisy is staggering. An oil spill here would devastate this group of people. The current dig also traverses ancestral burial grounds of the Sioux, threatening destruction of an area that has deep spiritual and archaeological significance.

If you take the time to watch the videos below and are put off by the protests, ask yourself what you would do if someone showed up threatening your property or resources with a bulldozer, biting dogs and pepper spray. These protests aim to stop work until the cases have a chance to be heard in Federal Court.

Unfortunately, the battle over the Dakota Pipeline is simply another of the myriad of variations of endlessly and pointlessly convoluted muck indigenous groups must trudge through to protect their rights and interests in America. The lawyers are happy. The children go hungry.

Words and Photography ©2016 Tanya Cliff ~ to contact me

Posted in human rights & noDAPL. Bookmark the permalink.

~

partial restraining order against North Dakota pipeline issued 9/6/16

because calling in the National Guard is going to calm everyone down…(bitter sarcasm here)

Iowa landowner’s suing to block eminent domain seizure of their properties against the Dakota pipeline

Note: Thanks to Dermott Hayes for drawing my attention to this story. I’ll be updating this on Monday. A decision regarding this case is scheduled for later today (9/9/16) in Federal Court.