Standing Rock

The brutal suppression of the Standing Rock protest against the Dakota Access Pipeline on the orders of President Trump shortly after he came to power will I’m sure have consequences unseen by him in the longer term, both in terms of the US coming to terms with its own history and of course climate change.

The London protest in solidarity with Standing Rock seemed a slightly surreal event, with only a small handful of those present having any native American heritage, or even any great knowledge of their religion and customs taking part in a protest that was also a religious ceremony. It took place in front of the London US Embassy, which has always appeared to me, perhaps appropriately, as a symbol or brutality and mindless force.

My own ideas of what was undoubtedly a lengthy process of genocide in the settling of the USA by European immigrants were formed in my youth by Hollywood and the games of ‘Cowboys and Indians’ that were a part of every child’s growing up in the 1950s. Having two older siblings in games with them and their friends I was always the ‘Indian’, with a brown loose decorated shirt and a rather chunky rubber tomahawk (actually a rather more effective weapon capable of serious bruising than the much flashier shiny plastic six gun I later graduated to wielding on the other side.)

Later too we played with bows and arrows, more serious weapons still, with the green pea sticks that shot at some force could certainly have caused serious eye damage, but our hero then was Robin Hood, and we were champions then of the poor against the dastardly rich and oppressive Sheriff of Nottingham.

But while Robin and his merry men might have been something of a positive role model, back in the day those Indians were clearly losers, shown as cruel and deceitful and little or nothing of their more spiritual and environmental views came across. They stood in the way of progress, and progress slaughtered them – and under Trump still does.

Now of course we are at least beginning to realise (other than Trump and his dinosaur friends) that the world has to change and we need to take account of nature and to live in harmony with it. Natural resources are finite and we have to limit our pollution of the environment to a level that nature can deal with in a way that allows our own lives to continue. Not living as those original Americans did, but embodying some of their spirit.

London Stands with Standing Rock

A few days ago, the New York-based Wallace Global Fund presented the inaugural Henry A. Wallace award to the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe for its brave resistance in defending sacred land and water against the Dakota Access Pipeline. In addition to the $250,000 prize, the Tribe will receive up to a $1 million investment from the Wallace Global Fund to support its transition toward fossil fuel independence.


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My London Diary : Buildings of London : River Lea/Lee Valley : London’s Industrial Heritage

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