By Lloyd Streeter
Some folks are really unrealistic and superstitious about the American Indians. It is believed by naïve and unthinking people that American Indians were always more noble and more peaceful than all other people.
Human nature is the same all across the human race. All people descended from a single pair of human parents. All colors of people are the same morally. No people group is more peaceful, more honest, more generous, or more noble than other groups. The Bible says that all humans are depraved, bent toward sinful behavior, and selfish. American Indians are no better and no worse than any other people. But these truths escape some people, especially the liberals. Liberals tend to equate some skin pigmentation with a sort of superiority, the more pigmentation, the more supreme the people. This line of thinking is a peculiar kind of racism. In all of the moral, political, fraternal, and legal issues of life, we should simply ignore skin pigmentation. People are just people, and they should be treated as individuals, not as members of a race.
The American Indians are immigrants to the Americas. They came here in three waves between 10,000 to 1,000 years before Christ’s advent. Strictly speaking, they are not “Native Americans,” at least not any more than any other persons who were born in America. They are also not Indians, a name they acquired because the Europeans, who arrived in America in 1492, thought that they had reached an island off the coast of India. I, for one, will call the Indians whatever they want to be called, Indians, Native Americans, or Aboriginal (Indigenous), but a term that seems most appropriate is “First Americans,” because they were first to arrive here.
The American Indians are actually descendants of Asians. This is easily seen in their facial features as well as in their DNA. Yes, the Indians’ ancestors came here from Northeast Asia. It is known that the Indians crossed the Bearing Straits to migrate to what is now Alaska. They then spread Southward through what is now Canada, then to all of North America, South America, and even to all the islands in the Caribbean. There were only a few million Indians in the US when the Europeans arrived. There were many, many Indians tribes, very diverse in customs, languages and degrees of advancement.
What this means is that the Indians have not “always been here.” They are descendants of immigrants, like the rest of us. It also means that the Indians are not Jews, as the Mormons teach. DNA studies have scientifically traced the origin of the Indians to various peoples in the vast regions of Asiatic Russia.
The First Americans, the American Indians, crossed the Bearing Straits, and over a period of approximately ten to twelve thousand years, settled on lands that they had not purchased. The lands were then settled, very sparsely, with most of the land having no human residents at all.
There were vicious wars between the various and multitudinous tribes. The Indians were as peaceful as any other people on earth, but they were also as cruel and blood thirsty in war as any other people. The tribes fought each other over land, hunting and fishing rights, and other grievances. They took slaves from among those that they conquered. They killed, raped, enslaved, and robbed one another, just as other peoples have done in war all through history.
The land areas changed “ownership” many times. When the Europeans arrived, they found that there was less than one person per square mile of land. Most of the 3 to 5 million Indians (in what is now the United States) lived along the coasts and great waterways.
Often the Europeans did not treat the Indians fairly, especially after wars. Sometimes, the Indians were forced onto reservations. Sometimes, they were robbed of their dignity. This is sad and inexcusable because the land was big enough for all to live comfortably.
However, any thoughts about the First Americans being some kind of god-like people should be jettisoned. Such thoughts are totally misguided and false. It is a false idea that Indians are always harmless, in tune with nature, respectful of the environment, and fair to those who disagree with them. These ideas have been used by the organizers of the North Dakota protests to sell their opposition to the pipeline to the American people. The truth is that Indians are just like other people with the same attitudes, the same motivations, and the same responses. They are just people with the same strengths and weaknesses as all other people.
With this background in mind, we come to the problem of the pipeline. In the news lately, we have learned of the Standing Rock Indians protesting, and even fighting with police, over the construction of the Dakota Access Pipeline.
No one denies their right to protest as long as they do not break the law. However, 500 people have been arrested, mostly for fighting with the police. It should be kept in mind that many of the “protestors” are not Indians but organizers who have come from distant places to try to impede “big oil” from getting its product to market.
The organizers of the protests say the pipeline in North Dakota comes too close to the Indians’ reservation and that it endangers some of their ancestral sacred sites. They further claim to be worried about the pipeline crossing the Missouri River, which they say could pollute the drinking water.
It should be kept in mind that the planned route of the pipeline does not go through Indian lands. It only comes near the reservation. It should also be remembered that about 8 pipelines already cross the Missouri River. Even more importantly is the fact that if the pipeline is not built, many more oil trucks will have to pass over the bridges, crossing the river. Many more trains loaded with oil will have to cross the river on the trestles. Trucks and trains are far more likely to spill oil into the river than are the pipelines. These are somewhat inconvenient facts for those who oppose “big oil.”
To make matters worse for the tribe’s claims, the courts have ruled that the Indians failed to prove that any “sacred sites” are endangered by construction of the pipeline.
Any open minded person would have to question whether the protestors are exploiting the Indians in order to hinder the exploration, production, transportation, and use of oil. It is possible that some of the protestors care far more about opposing the burning of fossil fuels than they do about the Indians’ concerns.
It is unreasonable to promote the idea that the government would approve a pipeline that would not be safe. After all, the EPA, and indeed, all of the Federal government has been mostly unfriendly to oil.
The pipeline will be on private land. The land owners have a right to sell access to their own land. The protestors do not have the right to prevent the land owners from using their land for any legal purpose. The land owners’ rights and the rights of the owners of the pipeline are being trampled upon.
The larger issue, and the issue that underlies the protests, is the burning of oil and natural gas for our energy. The liberals think that we should use only wind and solar for our energy. But wind and solar are not ready for prime time. Windmills and solar panels leave their own footprint on the environment. Whether we like it or not, we will be dependent on coal, oil, and natural gas for many decades. So, we should learn to live with it. We should continue to develop ways to burn these fuels more cleanly. We should also continue to develop wind, solar, hydro, nuclear, and all other forms of energy. We should continue to find ways to use these energy sources safely and economically. And we should stop taxing and regulating our industries so much that we force them to move to China, India, and other countries (taking our jobs with them) where no serious effort is made to burn coal and oil cleanly.
It is essential for the well-being of future generations of Americans that we become energy independent. We will need more oil and natural gas, not less, in the decades ahead. If America becomes an industrialized nation again, as our New President-elect has promised, and if we start making things in the USA again, we will definitely need more energy from all sources. We need the jobs! God put all of these great deposits of fuels in the earth for our benefit. He wants us to subdue the earth and use it for our good, for the good of everybody, including our First Americans.