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OpEdNews Op Eds    H2'ed 10/9/16

Still Fighting for Native American Rights

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And then I've seen also from the first amount of flags. I saw it go from 30 flags, National flags, to now where I've seen over 250 flags flying right now, and we've got them in formation. It looks like the United Nations, better, bigger than the United Nations.

I rarely hear arguments. And you don't hear arguments, and yelling and screaming. And we have curfews now because of the kids, the children going to school. And we're very strict about that. There were some people that came there, one or two people, and have been asked to leave because we understand that they had warrants for them, in other states. And we don't want this to be a sanction. We didn't want to get involved in it.

DB: You would say that generally this is non-violent resistance with a growing permanence to it?

The #NoDAPL water Protectors took non-violent direct action by locking themselves to construction equipment. This is
The #NoDAPL water Protectors took non-violent direct action by locking themselves to construction equipment. This is 'Happy' American Horse from the Sicangu Nation, hailing from Rosebud. August 31, 2016
(Image by (Desiree Kane, Wikipedia))
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Banks: Oh yes. And I think that that's why the support out there is overwhelming. I mean, not only support from the United States but we're getting support from Japan. We're getting support from people from Europe, from Brazil, people sending delegations, from the South Seas. We had a delegation of men and women singing songs from Tahiti, Hawaii, places like that. It is absolutely beautiful. I've never seen it happen in this way. And I'm lucky that I was chosen to be on some of the committees there.

DB: Tell us about the committees. You're are on the entertainment committee now?

Banks: Yeah.

DB: Tell us about...that seems like a leap from Wounded Knee.

Banks: Yeah, it was interesting in how it came down. I was laughing at it myself. They said, "Well, Banks we'd like to have you on the entertainment committee because you know a lot of entertainers." And myself and Robbie Romero, we've been on that and we've contacted people. And we had the chance to talk to Willie Nelson. I've known Willie for 30 years. But he said to me "Dennis, I'm just getting too god-damned old for this." And I said, "Well, Willie can you do a video at home and just send that?" Because we're going to be airing these things at our big conference hall over at the casino. And we're bringing in hip hop artists.

DB: So, you're on the entertainment committee and is there a lot of interest in that community? You mentioned Willie Nelson, are people caring at that level? Is this having reverberations in those sort of places, that have traditionally really supported your work?

Banks: Absolutely, well, Leonard DiCaprio has voiced his concern. He definitely wants to come. He said "I've got a tight schedule right now, but let me go over there, my schedule is loose so I can stay a few days." And, of course, we're getting Jackson Brown; he wants to come. Also, Kristofferson definitely is going to be there in February. He's doing a tour. And now he's going to do almost three-four months tour. We also need Santana; You know, he's an old friend of mine.


DB: Let me jump in here Dennis. You have taken so many extraordinary actions to call attention to the ongoing genocidal attempt by the United States government to continue to get rid of the Native Peoples of this continent. What's happening in North Dakota, with them trying to plow into sacred lands, this is nothing short of that. Right?

Banks: Well, yes. And I mean not only the U.S. government but the local states themselves encroaching on Indian land. You know, they're the ones that agreed to this pipeline coming through. But the Corps of Engineers now they permitted...they gave the permits to North Dakota...And then the Dakota State people said they had consultation with Standing Rock Sioux tribe. And Standing Rock laughed at them and their use of the word "consultation." The Corps of Engineers calls them up, talks them up for about 15 minutes.

DB: That's the consultation.

Banks: That's the consultation, and the tribe has laughed at that.

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Dennis J Bernstein is the host and executive producer of Flashpoints, a daily news magazine broadcast on Pacifica Radio. He is an award-winning investigative reporter, essayist and poet. His articles and essays have appeared in The New York Times, The Boston Globe, The Nation, and (more...)

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