Mar 7, 2016 - Big Oil…Even Bigger Wacipis? by Allison Renville

With the recent powwow circuit rerouted through east river south Dakota, the trickle down of the oil boom has managed to finally seep over into ndn country in a way not many are left to not criticize.

What was an excellent turnout and over all enjoyable time, put forth by what I’m sure was tons of work and effort from everyone involved? The battle over environmental issues quickly overshadowed the grandeur gesture of appreciation. The event itself had, as I was told by a box office attendant, over 1000 ticket scans each day. She even expressed to me how great of time the staff had, saying so much about what a nice feeling it was to experience it. Prize money added to the pot for various specials that were sponsored personally by the families involved, winners paying it forward by gifting what they received. It would be in bad taste to discredit the event completely, especially when the oil companies that did sponsor are native owned and philanthropic. Maybe like a lot of progressive natives, it’s about beating the man at their own game. In optimistic light of course, this is also a chance for these entrepreneurs to take their place on the podium and demand what’s best for the earth and its people.

Who hasn’t seen and felt all of the effects of this boom across not only our reservation but the entire country, from fracking and Midwestern earthquakes to contaminated water, the list goes on. Our way of life is and has been jeopardized by what is now finally undeniable. The drug infestation surrounding our communities, immigration issues, human trafficking; all issues of a modern frontier. Our woman being stolen and murdered, our children being poisoned by the simple act of being thirsty. The list like I said could go on and on. We are at a point now in history that not only our concerns about all of this, but our voices need to be heard. I am very sure we are all aware there’s a race to the White House going on, a race that is already dividing and uniting both political parties in America.

I know most of you will have negative experiences to go by as far as how important you feel voting actually is. Bad experience with the U.S. government, tribal government isn’t sitting too lightly with certain #Oyate right now, any overall cruddy experiences that create trust issues for some could take credit for people’s nonchalant excuses as to why they don’t vote. What we need to embrace as part of the post Obama millennial shift is confidence, it is what got us our first black president after all. We knew then who was going to win, and regardless of any bias have the same feeling towards our candidates this go around.

And more important than an already huge conversation going on now, people are more willing to listen and learn, something that was uncommon in even the last campaign. I believe every one of you deserves the right to vote and participate in what happens to our country, to our environment and our future. We owe it to our children to get involved in the political process, we need to show them collectively we are a driving force this time around just as we were in 2008. With one candidate bringing on a very liberal lawyer and activist who has done work dealing with all of these issues I said we are dealing with here in South Dakota, it’s hard to understand any First Americans objection to securing their favorites nomination by rocking the native vote.

I understand every angle and how important every one of these topic affect our people. I, understand the thesis many progressives have had before us, one that is based on the idea of beating the wasicu at their own game of assimilation, but I also strongly believe in democratic process that is a general election. We can yell and protest all we want, but without the proper representation, a lot of this activism can go unmoved. Paula Hawks (D), former teacher and candidate for SD House of Representatives, whom is supportive of not only issues for natives in our state but for the major problems far set in our education system. Jay Williams (D), who is running for the U.S. Senate has begun his campaign based against big money contributions and advising that isn’t in our overall best interest as a party and state. Regardless of what party you affiliate yourself with, we are at a time when the conventional idea of politics is being challenged by new vision and status quo rebellion. It’s now our time to register to vote and get as involved as we can in this revolution, let’s make sure they hear how these big oil companies and corporate America are effecting our culture and way of life. Let’s not fight amongst ourselves pointing fingers, accusing one another of wrong doing, while the rest of the country determines the next leader of the free world. Enough with talking, it’s time for action!

Last Real Indians