Thanksgiving at Standing Rock

thansgiving“Illegal immigration is not a new problem. Native Americans call it `White People´.”

“Thanksgiving celebrates all that we have and the genocide it took to get it” (Irwin Osborne, historian)

When all the trees have been cut down, when all of the animals have been hunted, when all the waters have been polluted, when the air is unsafe to breathe, only then will you discover that you cannot eat money”. (Cree Prophesy)

While most experienced professionals who work with individual and collective traumas, as well as others who are seriously engaged with overwhelming life events are aware that these events often occur on the anniversary of previous and unresolved traumas, as well as other iconic dates and holidays. Terrorists, politicians, novelists and our corporate-controlled media make use of this knowledge according to their own overt or covert agendas. In 2012 I wrote an entire book about this phenomenon: Trauma: Time, Space and Fractals, whichincluded a measure of speculation as to why some events continue to replicate and re-enact throughout time and space, often for generations. As a result of my own experiences as both historian and clinician, I have come to understand that self-replicating traumatic patterns tend to originate and then continue indefinitely when something of importance has remained unacknowledged, lied about, covered up, denied or minimalized through some version of media-spin. As a result, through the reality of what might be understood as the timeless informational field; that which is unresolved will continue to manifest; often on iconic dates and holidays such as Thanksgiving.

From this perspective, current events taking place in North Dakota, now highlighted by the media during our Thanksgiving holiday season, serve to reveal a long standing, self-replicating historical fractal still in search of resolution. As Americans gather for family dinners and communal blessings, members of the Standing Rock Sioux Nation, together with over 300 representatives from other tribes, and their non-native supporters, were brutally attacked by law enforcement and militarized protectors of the energy industries. Rubber bullets, volleys of tear gas, batons, beanbag rounds, high pitched sound generators, concussion grenades, police dogs and high pressure water cannons laced with pepper spray, in sub-freezing temperatures, were unleashed upon this peaceful gathering of unarmed citizens. In addition, these peaceful defenders were subjected to mass arrests, strip-searches and felony charges levied against photographers and journalists covering the ongoing events.

These “water protectors” gathered in order to protest the final portion of a 3.7 billion dollar Dakota Access Pipeline which would span four states, and cross hundred of waterways and wetlands. Nevertheless, the government maintains that this is the safest and most efficient method for transport of filthy, hydro-fracked, crude oil from North Dakota to a refinery in Illinois, and destined for export to China. However, the Native Americans are objecting on the grounds that this oil-mongering “Black Snake “would cut under the Missouri River, the longest on our continent, within a mile of their reservation, disrupting sacred sites, contaminating the local tribes’ fresh water source. According to Lakota prophecy, if the Black Snake crosses the river into the land, the waters will be poisoned and it will mark off the end of the world. This pipeline proposal is also in violation of a government treaty that set this land aside for them in 1851. Beginning on December 4th, over a thousand military veterans from the Army, Navy, Marine Corps, Air Force and Coast Guard plan to gather in support of the water protectors. One of their main organizers is Wes Clark, son of Four Star General Wesley Clark, former Supreme Commander of Allied Forces Europe (S.H.A.P.E)

In a gesture of support and in keeping with the holiday spirit, Navajo chef Brian Yazzie gathered donations of food for the Standing Rock Water Protectors where he prepared three meals a day for 3,000-4,000 folks. Being aware of the historical trauma, Chef Yazzie focused on indigenous foods in keeping with his belief that re-introducing an indigenous diet helps by feeding the people and keeping them healthy. While the gesture was appreciated among the indigenous, Thanksgiving holiday is not a cause for celebration given the long legacy of abuse and disempowerment as Native Americans were not granted citizenship until 1924 and many were taken away from families and forced to live in government boarding schools.

Along with Santa Claus and the Easter Bunny, the American myth of pious pilgrims and native Wampanoags sharing a harvest meal together with brotherly love and appreciation, still persists with school and local community pageants along this sanitized theme. Perhaps you remember the nursery rhyme “Ten Little Indians”, the Pocahontas love story, the term “Indian Giver”; and those Hollywood Westerns where heroic, gun slinging, always handsome cowboys saved our country from hostile savages? A reality check reveals that Native Americans do not accept these stories and for many of them Thanksgiving is a day of mourning which some refer to as “Thankstaking”. On Thanksgiving day in 1970, on the 350th anniversary of the landing of the Pilgrims, a descendant of the Wampanoags spoke:

“Today is a day of celebration for you, a time of looking back to the first days of white people in America. But it is not a time of celebration for me. It is with heavy heart that I look back upon what happened to my people. When the Pilgrims arrived, we Wampanoags welcomed them with open arms, little knowing that it was the beginning of the end. Before 50 years were to pass, the Wampanoags would no longer be a tribe. and that we and other Indians living near the settlers would be killed by their guns or dead from diseases we caught from them. Let us always remember, the Indian is just as human as the white people”. (Irwin Oborne,, November 25, 2016.)

For the go-along to get-along majority, the issues at stake at Standing Rock are not on the radar, especially for those who do not want to complicate their lives with concerns for human dignity, human rights or survival. Yet, for the awake and aware, Standing Rock represents the epicenter of the attempt to save our ecosystem from the fossil-fuel industries and the hegemonic powers of the trans-national corporations. This conflict is likely to escalate under the Trump administration, especially given that the President elect owns 2 million dollars worth of shares in this pipeline project. (R.F. Kennedy Jr. RT, November 16, 2016) As they continue to expand, events at Standing Rock have come to represent something much larger than a struggle between a disenfranchised people and a government that backs gazillion-dollar corporations. This is a battle to save humanity from itself, and winter is coming. (Adam Lindman,, November 21, 2016).

This entry was posted in Uncategorized. Bookmark the permalink.