Jan 23, 2017 - Oath Keepers True Colors Show in Attack on Standing Rock Sioux and the Water Protectors

Just three months after making overtures to the Water Protectors at Standing Rock, and being rejected for their paramilitarism and bigotry, the Las Vegas, Nevada-based Oath Keepers is flying its ultra-nationalist flag. This time the far right group is casting defenders of treaty rights and water as part of a global conspiracy to destroy the economy. This latest move shows the prudence of the Water Protectors rebuff of the group and highlights Oath Keepers’ true colors – and those colors are all shades of white.

Oath Keepers’ communications director Jason Van Tatenhove travelled to Standing Rock in September 2016 and wrote articles speciously likening the Water Protectors stand to racist Nevada rancher Cliven Bundy’s 2014 armed confrontation with the Bureau of Land Management. A letter distributed by Last Real Indians and the Institute for Research and Education on Human Rights documented Tatenhove’s promotion of anti-Muslim bigotry and his “journalism” for a Montana-based online publication that praises Elaine Wilman of the anti-Indian Citizens Equal Rights Alliance.

Image from the Oath Keepers website


Roxanna Hall – a California-based Oath Keeper who had travelled to Standing Rock with Tatenhove – wrote, “[W]e are not welcome there…I was told that by the head of security at Standing Rock…I’m stepping back from helping Standing Rock. I have encountered some serious ignort (sic) racist BULSHIT (sic) and I can not do low I.Q thinking…I STAND WITH THE BUNDY’S (sic)… the patriots and the Malitia (sic).”1

Groups like Oath Keepers tend to cry racism when they are called out for their actual racism.

In December 2016, Oath Keepers attacked the Standing Rock Sioux in articles written by “Navy Jack,” a pseudonym for an individual claiming to have served in the Navy and as president of a large Department of Defense contractor. “Navy Jack” spins a far right conspiracy theory that “The [Standing Rock Sioux] tribe has been and is being used by Globalist interests to create an ‘occupy’ environmental protest movement.” He continues that “George Soros and his extensive network of Globalist allies” lay behind the work of the Indigenous Environmental Network, Indigenous Media Rising and the People’s Climate March as well as “social justice, communist, and illegal alien protection organizations including Black Lives Matter, La Raza, the Workers World Party and the Revolutionary Communist Party.” Jack spews that activists are engaged in a “constructive apocalypse” through the call to divest from banks invested in the Dakota Access Pipeline. The end goal for “Globalists and their Marxist ‘useful idiot’ minions,” he babbles, is the “total control of all national resources and the complete subservience of the people.”

Praising President-elect Donald Trump, Navy Jack declares that the “results of the recent election may provide us with opportunities to roll-back the Globalist’s (sic) progress and to be more assertive.” He continues that “The new President-elect will certainly attempt to end this spiral down-the-drain for our nation, but he won’t succeed unless he has our help.” Oath

Keepers “help” comes in the form of promoting paramilitary “Community Preparedness Teams” and a College Oath Keepers initiative to “take back the college campuses by aggressively engaging the Marxist enemy there.”

Navy Jack’s writing displays a middle American nationalism pitting middle class whites against both global elites and people of color. While its anti-globalist aspect can appear progressive, it is part and parcel of attacks on tribal sovereignty, environmental protections and civil and human rights. As such he criticizes both the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) agreement that would “end our national sovereignty” and decries that, “Our borders would remain open…requiring an ever increasing need for debt to feed, house, educate and provide medical care for an unlimited number of illegal immigrants and refugees.”

Any genuine opposition to unjust policies like the TPP must be rooted in a vision of human rights that includes immigrants, refugees, indigenous peoples, working people and a deep concern for ecological health. This is simply not the vision of “Navy Jack” and Oath Keepers.

In the end, Oath Keepers attack on the Standing Rock Sioux, the Water Protectors, Black Lives Matter, and immigrants echoes the mix of racialized nationalism and hunger for tribal resources we can expect from a Trump administration. The Water Protectors showed how to kick them out of actual justice-based circles. Now we must fight their bigotry in our communities and on college campuses.

Two more things – don’t forget to divest from banks supporting the Dakota Access Pipeline! And, Black Lives Matter!

by Chuck Tanner, Advisory Board, Institute for Research and Education on Human Rights

1 Roxanna Hall. Facebook Page. October 31, 2016. https://www.facebook.com/roxanna.hall.92?fref=nf.

Last Real Indians