LETTER TO MR. DONALD J. TRUMP,
PRESIDENT-ELECT OF THE UNITED STATES OF AMERICA,
URGING YOUR SUPPORT IN RE-ROUTING THE DAKOTA ACCESS PIPELINE
Dear Mr. President-Elect,
I respectfully write to you suggesting a very honorable and noble thing you could do for America and its standing in the world, while also earning a great deal of goodwill with those in this country who care deeply about Native American rights and the environment (perhaps some of your more ardent opponents at the moment), and that is to insure following your inauguration that the Army Corps of Engineers require a re-routing of the Dakota Access Pipeline away from the Sioux Standing Rock Reservation, thereby protecting these Native Americans, their ancient cultural sites, and others who depend on the Missouri River for drinking water from the undeniable and unacceptable risk of a petroleum spill if the pipeline were to be completed in its current iteration. (Maps of petroleum spills up and downstream from the reservation show that spills have contaminated water and land almost everywhere nearby in the Missouri River watershed, except for the area immediately surrounding the Standing Rock Reservation and DAPL’s “proposed” path directly upstream from the Sioux’s access to the Missouri River.
DAPL never should have been dumped on the doorstep of the Sioux reservation — The pipeline already was re-routed once to avoid threatening the water supply of Bismark, North Dakota . Although your campaign often seemed to employ an “ends justifies the means” philosophy, in my opinion, and in the opinion of many others, it appears ludicrous, mean, racist, and glaringly exploitative for the Army Corps of Engineers to issue a permit to drill and complete DAPL on its currently proposed route.
This is because of a) the clear and direct risk to the Standing Rock Sioux’s drinking water, b) the local, large North Dakota gathering of Native Americans and others from all parts of the country, c) nationwide and world support for these self-proclaimed “water protectors” and the justice of their cause, d) the unprovoked and overwhelming force and violent treatment applied by law enforcement authorities and subcontractors to all ages in response to peaceful protests, e) the gut-wrenching injustice and cultural destruction that Energy Transfer Partners already has inflicted on ancient Sioux cultural and burial sites near the reservation in an attempt to force this pipeline through as a “fait accompli,” and f) our nation’s historically sordid and infamous reputation for mistreating and exploiting our native populations.
In light of all these factors, it’s simply not enough for the United States and the pipeline company to say: “It’s private land, so the Indians have no rights under the law,” especially when 1) That “private land” was taken from the Sioux in violation of the Treaty of 1851, and 2) United States law has seldom been applied honestly and honorably in the history of this nation’s relations with its Native Americans and the Sioux in particular, so why should our often-broken laws and promises hold any moral authority from their perspective?
Even if your own financial interests may be adversely affected by rerouting this pipeline (a report I’ve read in multiple places) — I believe that your “sacrifice” in this case could be widely recognized, certainly among Native Americans but also among a wider, even worldwide audience, including many young people. (On the other hand, it will look very bad if you are likely to profit from completion of the pipeline “as is,” and you do not intervene to stop it, thereby profiting personally.) It would appear widely as a very noble gesture, and should create goodwill, even more so than the “I won’t take the President’s $400,000 salary pledge, and might go to great lengths (even further than the salary pledge) toward assuaging and building the trust of some liberals who may now fear you will become a modern-day Andrew Jackson (in the worst sense) vis-a-vis the environment and the rights of American minorities, especially America’s “Indians.”
I am an American of long-ago English, Scottish, and German descent, with no Native American connection or bloodline that I am aware of, and I unfortunately might come to share those fears if I should see my country soon trample on the right to clean water for a people whose protection under our laws is seldom enforced. Please don’t start out your presidency by making the United States look like a bully toward the “American Indians.”
I urge you to support rerouting DAPL as a suggestion against interest, knowing that if you do this it will boost your popularity among your adversaries immensely, perhaps even making other causes that are anathema to liberals seem almost palatable. But I believe this issue is of such importance, right now and probably for all time, that it is worth it, realistically and symbolically, and also might inspire you to do more of the “right” thing(s) as our new President in the coming years. Please think about doing this, and how it will make you and many others feel good about America, even if you don’t fully understand why.
And please remember, America’s Native Americans qualify as “Americans” more than any of the rest of us and they deserve our protection and respect if only for that reason, if not also for the fact that they have probably suffered more from United States actions and our failure to follow our own laws than have any other people, and so this grand (but feasible) act of rerouting the DAPL pipeline will rebound with great political benefit to you, and also greatly help to heal post-election fears both now and in the future.
My best wishes to you and your team in helping to steer the ship of state toward this country’s success, while protecting our shared values and rights.
P.S. I didn’t vote for you, but I am excited by the hope that you could be a force for good in America, in many more ways than you may be aware of now, if only because of your independent streak and refusal to follow the direction of others in a lock-step fashion — it is this aspect of your temperament that I find particularly attractive at the moment, and I believe it could end up being your greatest strength as President.
Most Hillary Clinton and Bernie Sanders supporters are probably less concerned about the policies you, Donald J. Trump, might pursue on your own and in the absence of undue influence from Republicans like Newt Gingrich and others (who would probably like nothing better than to dismember and bury Medicare, Social Security, and every other vestige of our long-functioning and effective “New Deal” safety net for the poor and aged, and he also has experience with impeachment efforts, don’t forget), than they are about the economically regressive tax and other policies that (in the words of General Robert E. Lee) “those people” might urge you to adopt. In fact, I’ve heard Democratic speculation that if you should happen to fly off the handle for some reason and do something clearly impeachable, the Republicans might just drop you flat, confidently knowing that the guy they really want in there, Vice-President-Elect Mike Pence, is already right there, waiting in the wings.
So please don’t ever just give in — you have become (at least one, perhaps foolishly) optimistic Democrats’ “firewall” against unfettered Republican overreach — please apply your own “good” personal judgment as President (I’m sure you will), after adequate counsel from various appropriate sources, while respecting the views and constitutional rights of the people (and not just the views of your loudest staff members). If you can resist Republican policies you disagree with, without just caving in each time, you may even earn the support of some of those who didn’t vote for you.