Regarding the injunction against the pipeline, I don’t wish to throw cold water on what is obviously a great (though probably temporary) victory. But casting this as an issue of tribal rights and sovereignty is a dangerous diversion from a deeper and ultimately more important issue: the health and future of the planet.
While we should celebrate the actions of Obama and his justice department, we have to recognize that though the status of the tribes matters, the real issue is what the tribes are trying to tell all of us: water is the mother resource, and our lives, the lives of our children, and the very health of the planet are at stake. In short, it is Native values that really matter.
Unless we look past the political to the larger spiritual issue of our place and role as a species on the planet, any victory is hollow, indeed. Remember, we were the last species to emerge on the planet, and everything else survived well without us. We are the ones who can upset the balance because we have the capability of mastery and manipulation. Done without awareness, we can destroy the planet. Done correctly, we can be worthy stewards of this fragile world we have been given.
We need to raise up not just Native political status, but Native understanding and the Native way of seeing the earth. We must never lose sight of the fact that, beyond our political differences and our historical failures, we are common children of a common land. It is the Native way that can truly lead us to this understanding.