On Dave’s preference to keep the #NODAPL fight in the courtroom.

On a night of pondering Dave’s strategy with a local Standing Rock family, we went over the possibilities that may be going through his head.

Some believe he may be “naïve” enough to believe that a legal battle is best and could be effective in this circumstance. Given the history of legal battles brought to U.S. courts, it is clear to many that even a won legal battle does very little for Native Americans. A shining example is that of the Cherokee and the subsequent Trail of Tears. The Cherokee lawyers and claims were of such good quality that Cherokee Nation won the legal battle even at the Supreme Court level, yet President Jackson told the Supreme Court to enforce their decision if they believe in it so much… and the trail of tears was born out of the won trial.

Others recognize further sanctions or threats may have been brought to Dave given the new U.S. administration. Standing Rock is a reservation of heavy welfare programs which relies on agreements with the U.S. government to provide for many of these services and programs. Threats to these programs or threats to the income generating casino are threats to the long-term wellbeing of many people on the reservation. It is clear to me that Trump is a skillful negotiator along with his team and he may be willing to pull more severe strings to get what he wants. It remains to be seen on down the road as to what other things may have forced Dave into a more submissive position. Ironically, the existence of these programs and connections to the U.S. government already undermine the sovereignty of Standing Rock as seen in the current requests by Dave to “repair relationships” as the pipeline drilling is done and oil will flow within 2 weeks. (Repair relationships with an administration that supposedly will not even communicate with Standing Rock at the moment)

I am also not against considering the possibility of bribery. I have seen this model with elected officials and it is an intended design of elected government. One previous example is that of the Maroons in the Caribbean whose elected leader was bribed to allow mining on their treaty land. Elected officials are easy targets and normally require less total bribe money compared to paying off each individual of a group.