Author: Bryanne Bathory

The Perpetual Radioactive Disaster in the U.S.

As fears over rumors of a possible nuclear war incite Americans to speculate on the future and survival, a silent nuclear disaster continues almost unnoticed within the borders of the United States. Abandoned Uranium mines and radioactive waste storage continue to affect the lives of people living on and off reservations, as well as contaminating surface and ground water resources in multiple states.

Among the affected indigenous populations, the Navajo Nation, with the reservation covering parts of New Mexico, Arizona, and Utah, is the most well-known. Navajo uranium miners and their families became ill due to contact with uranium and dust from mining. The ongoing contamination of the surface dirt and water as well as groundwater supplies affect their nation today. The Navajo Nation currently has over 500 abandoned uranium mines within the borders of their reservation.

Pipeline Protests Continue in North Dakota, Texas; Police Ever Present

People from multiple nations, and supporters, gathered in front of the headquarters of Energy Transfer Partners (ETP) on September 24, 2016, to bring the fight against the Dakota Access Pipeline to the front door of Kelcy Warren, the CEO of ETP, as he brought the pipeline to the front door of the Standing Rock Nation.

Meanwhile, 1,100 miles north of Dallas near Cannon Ball, ND, police dressed in riot gear surrounded the protectors of the sacred lands, and the North Dakota National Guard was activated via a directive from Governor Jack Dalrymple on September 8, 2016. The act of activating the NG was alluded to in an August 19, 2016 executive order, though not stated outright.

Tackling the Common Misconceptions about Indigenous People in the U.S. and Canada

As there are many heartbeats, so are there different opinions, preconceived notions, and prejudices for any group you can think of. As Natives make up for a little less than 2% of the population in the United States, and a little less than 4% in Canada; they have been a target of a large number of stereotypes. Natives have been the targets of questions based on terrible misinformation, such as gathering ideas about Natives from movies and television shows, and believing that information to be factual. Here is a list of some of the major misconceptions being circulated today:

NATIVES ARE PAID MONTHLY CHECKS BY THE GOVERNMENT JUST FOR BEING NATIVE – There is no federal government program or initiative in either the U.S. or Canada that simply gives money to people just for having Native heritage, yet this is a widely popular notion even among the most well-meaning of people. One possible origin of this belief is from the Per Capita payouts that some tribes *do* give to their enrolled members from the profits of casinos that do well, which brings us to:

ND Governor Activates National Guard, Precedes Federal Ruling

On September 8, 2016, North Dakota Governor Jack Dalrymple called up the National Guard to the areas around the Dakota Access Pipeline (DAPL) protest/protection site “to support law enforcement, and augment public safety efforts.” This move was alluded to as a matter of not if, but when, from his Executive Order 2016-04 executed on August 16th.

Cody Hall, the media spokesperson for Red Warrior Camp, stated in a live streamed video to Facebook that the activation of the National Guard is “putting our lives in jeopardy” for expressing their rights, both Constitutional and civil. The North Dakota Governor’s announcement has come after video was taken showing the contracted security of the Dakota Access Pipeline (DAPL) had pepper sprayed, as well as what appears to be personnel coaxing their dogs to bite protesters/protectors.

Anarchism in Native America: Remembering the Past, Observing the Present, Protecting the Future

Things have changed a lot since I became an anarchist, not the least of which was learning a lot about the government’s role in regulating just about everything imaginable, and how it negatively affects people. Becoming an anarchist has also given me a deeper appreciation of being Native, as well as the reverse: being Native has given me a deeper appreciation of what anarchism entails. Yes, I know that there will probably be other anarchists that will denounce me being proud of something that is considered “an accident of birth”, yet they will conveniently overlook the fact that being descended from people who have been (and still are) consistently screwed over by a governing body “for their own good” means fertile soil for a bigger demand to dismantle The State™.

Growing up was not without its challenges. As a “mixed-breed”, I caught much flak by Natives for being white, and caught flak from whites for being Native. Even now, there’s still a lot of crap given to people who are not “pure enough”, and it’s coming from all sides. I was able to witness firsthand the traditions of my tribe (Oglala Lakota, in South Dakota), to listen to the stories, to watch how government meddling harmed those who were trying to make due for themselves and their families. I masochistically decided to go back and work as part of the Tribal Ambulance Service when I was a certified EMT-B, to catch that same flak as an adult. “You’re too white to be indi’n” was something I was told by one of my patients. Yet, not all calls were like that. Families trusted me to check over their babies. I was often fed (and fed well). I’ve had little ones hug me for just showing up. I’ve had older patients remember me from when I was a little girl, or ones that recognized me because of my relatives. Times like those reminded me of the beauty of a close-knit community, even past the flaws. Times like those also gave me a good look at how the government had successfully and repeatedly harmed my tribe for the gain of The State™.