TOM DAVIES: The Verdict — The Cavalry, Led By POTUS, Saves The Day

No one has ever heard me disagree with the decision or logic of a federal judge before. This time is the exception. I have not read the decision, but if I had, U.S. District Judge James Boasberg’s legal conclusions would not be in question. It is the factual basis upon which the conclusions are based that I take issue.

A certain red-haired radio talk show host on KFGO, first name Joel, reported the judge was angered at the fact that the Native Americans did not attend published meetings held off-reservation and on state lands.

My main concern all along has been that the Indian nations have not been treated with respect.

I think it is absolute nonsense that none of the hearings relating to Native lands was held on reservation land. That would, of course, have required that the Public Service Commission and its representatives get out of their office and address these people as equals — as they truly are.

I listen to all of the harping and Native bashing saying that the tribes should have gone to the Public Service Commission meetings over the past couple of years. That sounds so nice to the white complainers, bashers and the racists among them. But talk about a simple solution to a complex issue: Would the current problems exist if the PSC and any other governmental agency had simply held one or more hearings on the reservations?

Is that too much to ask of them? Would it have been so difficult for our governor or his representatives to meet with their Native American equals on Native lands?

Thank God, the president of the United States, Barack Obama, honored his pledge that he would work to resolve issues involving the tribes.

No sooner had the judge’s adverse ruling on the tribe’s request for a temporary halt to costruction come down than the POTUS (that’s President of the United States) sprang into action. In spontaneous unity, the Justice Department, the Department of the Army and the Department of the Interior put the brakes on the steamroller that was Big Oil and North Dakota government.

The position of the federal government was as complex as it was simple. The tribes have raised concerns — as they always have — about preserving their water, their way of life, their gravesites. They’ve expressed their positions in a way that many non-Natives don’t understand. But that’s the non-natives’ problem … and they’ve tried to make it a Native problem.

Though no one can predict the ultimate outcome after more study and review, this seems to be one of the few victories of the tribes. To them, in this day and age, if it holds … it is gigantic.

Of course, the state of North Dakota just can’t keep from taking actions that have seemed comical in the national news. Their actions have made it look like Donald Duck was running the state.

The Public Service Commission whines, “Well, why didn’t the tribes come to ‘our’ meetings?” Then, to throw more gas on the fire, the Morton County Sheriff files criminal complaints against a presidential candidate and her running mate, Jill Stein and Ajamu Baraka — then go a step further and does likewise with reporter Amy Goodman of the well-known TV, radio and website Democracy Now!”

Goodwin was documenting what was taking place at Standing Rock during the bulldozing of land containing sacred sites directly north of the reservation border. Apparently, someone forgot to tell the Morton County prosecutors about freedom of the press. My God, this was the dumbest move I could imagine! But you can be assured that, if a way can be found to bring her back from New York to face charges, the best defense bar in the country, which happens to be here in North Dakota, will potty-train someone on this unwise move.

Then let’s consider Stein and her vice presidential partner. The fact is, if they defaced property, they should be charged. The truth is, however, that they left the state, and they won’t be back. To charge them under these circumstances is, in my book, just grandstanding. It makes for a nice story but has no substance at all. The state can’t bring them back.

Does anyone wonder why the Dakota Access Pipeline security folks that set loose the dogs on Sept. 3, weren’t charged with assault with a deadly weapon? Oh, that’s right: They were hired by those building the pipeline … and we’re talking about Native victims here.

You can talk about “trespass” until your damned head falls off, but no one will ever convince me that those dog handlers shouldn’t be charged … along with the company that hired them.

Trespass is not a charge that warrants excessive use of force unless one is defending their home. Was that what big oil was doing? Defending its “home,” which just happens to be on sacred soil to the tribes?

Remember, those cowards saw the filing by the tribes of detailed information on their sacred sites Sept. 2. The very next day, they sent equipment that had been many miles away to desecrate it — early in the morning on a holiday weekend. Now, I challenge anyone with the brains God gave a goat to say the Natives had no right to move in when they saw their sacred sites being desecrated.

Assume, if you will, a scenario where a band of Native Americans drove construction equipment through your local cemetery! I’d like to visit with one single non-Native who would not have been incensed … and moved immediately to stop the damage.

Is there a double standard here? You bet there is! But that was leveled when POTUS and Co. arrived with their announcement shortly after the judge had destroyed the tribal petitioners’ hopes.

No one knows how this will end. Personally I think it will end well for the Natives because one of the most intelligent men to ever hold office occupies the presidency. The situation will be studied, and the concerns of the Native Americans will finally be heard. …

Equal to equal. Tribe to state … as it should be.

Don’t forget, the original Americans in this story are the Native Americans. Those who attack them are all immigrants. Turn that around, and consider how you’d like the government to proceed if it applies to you.

I hope everyone concerned with the plight of the Native Americans will faithfully switch to MSNBC. Lawrence O’Donnell, the host of “The Last Word,” went to Standing Rock himself. He saw the injustice firsthand, and he talked about it. He later was joined on the air by Rachel Maddow. Together, they finally brought the nation’s attention to this story. They did what local media have not been doing … until the lack of coverage was finally noted and, to some extent, they began to pick up the ball.

Anyone who’s been watching what has developed and doesn’t understand that, overall, the demonstrations have been peaceful — unlike what local coverage suggests — would probably be interested in purchasing some of that big supply of air in my backyard.

May North Dakota government pull its head out of the sand and give study to serious Native American concerns. Amen.

12 thoughts on “TOM DAVIES: The Verdict — The Cavalry, Led By POTUS, Saves The Day”

  • Jan Zahrly September 14, 2016 at 2:56 pm

    Thank you, Tom Davies for such great insight. peace, janz

  • Russell Myhre September 14, 2016 at 3:51 pm

    The conflict in the relationship between tribes, which are considered “dependent” sovereign nations, and states has always led to problems. Tribal governments are not political subdivisions of the state, nor are they subservient to the authority of state governments. It has never been legally determined, or is at least is unclear, if tribes are co-equal to states, or if they are superior in interest and status to state governments. You make a great point, in that demanding the Standing Rock Tribal government to travel to the Public Service Commission and to submit to its jurisdiction and control would be a relinquishment of the Tribe’s sovereignty. As a matter of respect, the PSC should have met with the Tribe on tribal lands, rather than demanding that the Tribe come to them. In terms of criminal trespass, the Fort Laramie Treaty of 1868 gave these lands to the Sioux tribes. However, this treaty, like all 500 other treaties with Native tribes, was broken, and in this instance, was unilaterally abrogated by the United States government under circumstances which, if this were a mere contract and not a treaty, would not be upheld on the grounds of coercion. QUARE: Can one trespass on land which was stolen from you? Finally, the Lakota of this generation are fulfilling the prophesy of Black Elk, that the Seventh Generation after Wounded Knee in 1891–the generation that now walks the earth–has a special responsibility to lead the Lakota nation into the future.

    1. Rob Sand September 25, 2016 at 11:02 pm

      That issue of the equal or not, regarding the tribal nations and the states is key. Thanks for bringing it up. The feds have been mandating agreements between tribes and states when it comes to gaming, for example. I am not fully informed as the gaming example, but it seems problematic to me to put tribes on equal standing with the states, or subservient as the ND PSC seems to think. The treaties are between the USA and the various tribes. The feds apparently pass the buck to work things out between tribes and step in when they must. It creates problems that confuse all concerned. Let the states go to tribes to confer and to look for solutions and the same with tribes, but the decisions affecting tribal nations ought to between the tribes and the federal government.

  • Andy Rodrigues September 14, 2016 at 6:16 pm

    ND *IS* run by Donald Duck, isn’t it? At least until the DAPL folks start becoming concerned about ‘Donald’ spilling the beans……

    An issue not getting attention is the fact that protectors are being charged with *FELONY* criminal trespass….. Seriously?!?! Have they put someone’s life in jeopardy by walking across that ground?

    Thank you for your article Tom. You also have my sympathy for living among the lumpen that can’t seem to do their own thinking, and end up electing worthless twaddle that squander their tax money on grandiose over-reaction and the resultant lawsuits to come.

  • Cat McClintock September 14, 2016 at 6:43 pm

    Psst. Goodman. Amy Goodman.

    1. Jeff Tiedeman September 14, 2016 at 7:36 pm


  • John E. Davis September 14, 2016 at 7:59 pm

    I admire your ability to get you point accross so succintly with a bit of scarcasism which these things demand. I really appreciate your efforts. May God bless you and the 200 Tribes who are offtering their support to North Dakota best. Fr. Jack Davis, Peru

  • Allene Ross September 14, 2016 at 8:55 pm

    Thank you once again for your wise words. While POTUS came in to save the day, why isn’t the U.S. Attorney Generals Office not investigating the numerous civil rights violations taking place by the Morton County Police and Courts. A full investigation relating to the unlawful arrests, racial profiling, unlawful detention (being held with out bail for misdemeanor offenses) and yes the atrocity of Morton County police standing by watching the dog attacks by private security. Where’s the Morton County Attorney pursuing the use of illegal attack dogs. Tell me how this happens in this time civil liberties. I get theres so much hatred for the Lakota because they’re sharing north Dakota air. But who knew there would be elected officials in North Dakota held to the highest honor of defending the rights of all its citizens except it didn’t include the Natives Americans. And since when does a pipeline have the civil rights of protection by the entire police force and ND national guard. It smells of corruption, its lousy in your halls of justice.

  • Mary Ann September 14, 2016 at 10:04 pm

    Another great article.

  • Bruce Fredrickson September 15, 2016 at 4:43 pm


  • Sam Robertson September 16, 2016 at 9:15 pm

    Thank you for stating the truth on this issue. Law licenses should also come under scrutiny for the States attorneys.

  • Lise Lyseggen September 25, 2016 at 5:56 pm

    Thank you,for your articel.I am following your page from Norway


Leave a Reply