A touching and necessary manifesto and history featuring firsthand accounts of the recent Indigenous uprising against powerful oil companies.
In this carefully researched and much-needed history of settler colonialism in the United States, Estes (American Studies/Univ. of New Mexico)—a citizen of the Lower Brule Sioux Tribe and co-founder of the Red Nation, “an organization dedicated to Native liberation”—is particularly focused on the resistance efforts of the Lakota, Dakota, and Nakota nations. The narrative is particularly interesting for the way it connects current environmental efforts—namely, the “Water is Life” movement at Standing Rock, North Dakota, in 2016—with the earliest attempts by Indigenous nations to protect their homeland, as well as with international politics. The author takes readers back to early U.S.–Indian wars in order to examine two competing value systems: the epic disagreement between Native-Americans and Europeans on how to use and respect America’s land. Exploring a wide variety of historical touchpoints, including the damming of the Missouri River, issues of eminent domain, the massacre at Wounded Knee and its later occupation, the American Indian Movement, and Indigenous recognition at the United Nations, Estes elucidates how and why the Dakota Access Pipeline protest emerged. He explains why Indigenous resistance never dies and what energized it in recent years. The author’s account is especially impressive as he criticizes his own tribe for attempting to ease the way for oil companies. “Now,” he writes, “Lower Brule had crossed a picket line, betraying not only their relatives…but also frontline communities around the world being devastated by climate change and extractivism.” With an urgent voice, Estes reminds us that the greed of private corporations must never be allowed to endanger the health of the majority.
An important read about Indigenous protesters fighting to protect their ancestral land and uphold their historic values of clean land and water for all humans.