This weekend I had the opportunity to be a part of a concert/protest in Neligh, Nebraska against the Keystone XL pipeline. The event was put together by the organization Bold Nebraska and the Cowboys and Indians Alliance. The performers were Frank Waln, The Sampson Brothers, Willie Nelson, and Neil Young. As an occasional Democracy Now! viewer I am somewhat familiar with the bullying and power plays that TansCanada has perpetuated against Native American sovereignty and private property rights. Never did I know that the discussion had so many interpretations.
The performances were great and I will discuss them a little bit later. But first, I will attempt to deconstruct a statement made by a landowner that went something like this, “we need to fight this communist pipeline”. Why would this landowner who opposes the KXL refer to it as “communist” not “corporatist,” “fascist,” or “anti-democratic”? This has puzzled me and so I have decided to blog about it. I acknowledge that there is a generational trend for people who grew up during Cold War politics that demonizes State authority. So this has led me to think that the landowner was in fact referring to the pressure that TransCanada has put on the federal government—through lobbying and media control (Citizens United)—to violate private property rights and force the landowners (and Native Americans) to accept the KXL. So, if my assumption holds, who does the landowner think the “State” is? Is it corporations, elected officials, or the people? And what the hell is “communism”? It is my guess that immediacy has something to do with solemnly blaming the State for the possibility that private property rights could be infringed upon. What I mean is that the landowner has been threatened by the State and not immediately by TransCanada; although behind the scenes it is TransCanada, through unlimited undisclosed campaign contributions (legally sanctioned by Citizens United) that is pressuring the government (elected officials) to exert authoritative power via the State. So, immediately the landowner is concerned with the government and not TransCanada. This coupled with a very limited and narrow idea of what communism is may have been the reason why the landowner referred to the KXL as a “communist pipeline.”
As superstars, Neil and Willie don’t get too vulnerable with their audiences. Frank Waln a Native American rapper performing with the Sampson Brothers (Native American hoop dancers) was by far the most exciting performer of the concert/protest. Waln is a young man who critically examines masculinity in his songs. Waln performed the song “my stone” to his mother on stage which brought much of the audience to tears. Here is a link to the performance: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ux5KHQSy0CA
I want to close this reflection with a statement made by the president of the Rosebud Sioux Nation who also spoke. He said something to the likes of “when we come back here to stop this pipeline we are going to have our war paint on, we are not going to protest it, we are going to stop it”.
"This land is your land"