The land that we call the United States is about 750 million years old. The nation-state, which we call the United States, was founded much later. Its beginning brought together nations, race, and resources on shared land in bloody conflict. Needless to say, the United States was founded on violence. European settlers crossed the Atlantic for gain. Early Americans fought off English and expanded onto Native American land westward because it was economically advantageous to do so. A hundred years after the Revolutionary War American businessmen crossed the Pacific to Hawaii, seeking profitable investments, which led to the territory’s annexation. On January 24, 2017 Donald Trump signed an Executive Order to further the progress of the Dakota Access Pipeline, which he justifies will add jobs and create wealth. The construction of the Dakota Access Pipeline bears similarities to America’s policies with Hawaii, putting economic interest above Indigenous interest.
The Hawaiian Islands were once governed by an Indigenous kingdom with a long history and tradition. American investors and businessmen initiated the overthrow of the kingdom, which eventually led the United States to acquire and appropriate the archipelago. The acquisition allowed white settlers and businessman to “develop” the island nation, and it has served as a lucrative asset for the U.S. government and for its investors. The acquisition has generally not been good for Native Hawaiians.
Native Hawaiians were forced into statehood, but they still perceive their land as being occupied, never having willingly consented to the land appropriation. Similarly, the Standing Rock Sioux still see the land on which the Dakota Access Pipeline is being built as their own. At one point in time there were no white people in what we now call North Dakota. Americans scouted the land in the early 18th century, but it was not until the 1850’s that white settlers started to push Native Americans off the land. In 1851 the Sioux agreed to the Fort Laramie Treaty north of the current Standing Rock Sioux reservation. The U.S. government went back on their treaty in 1868 and forced the Standing Rock on a smaller parcel of land. The current trajectory of the Dakota Access Pipeline has been routed in this disputed territory one mile north of the reservation. A leak in the pipeline will contaminate the Standing Rock Sioux’s only source of drinking water, obliterating the vitality of the Sioux nation.
Colonization acquires Indigenous land, and puts it into the hands of the colonizer. Colonization gives little or no regard for the safety or well-being of those who are being colonized. Colonization is not necessarily initiated by governments; in fact, it is often initiated by businesses and carried out by their government of origin. The United States government sent navies to conquer and acquire Hawaii for its private investors. The police and National Guard, paid by U.S. tax dollars, support these wealthy oil barons to seize land from Indigenous communities, and poison America’s drinking water. The United States government offer those companies tax breaks, incentives, and subsidies for doing so. This Executive Order breaks treaties, perpetuates the United States’ colonial legacy, rips off tax payers, and sets a course to ensure the United States’ dependency on dirty fracked oil.