In what should be heralded as a monumental turning point in the global environmental movement, protestors at Standing Rock claimed victory over the construction of the Dakota Access Pipeline. The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers legally blocked the construction of the pipeline, dismissing the claim that it needed easement to drill beneath the Missouri River.
The battle is not necessarily over, but it seems inconceivable that the drilling could continue without major repercussions from a highly motivated movement that has shown no signs of backing down.
In an incredibly touching moment captured on social media, hundreds of veterans took a knee in front of tribal elders and begged for forgiveness for crimes committed against them.
“In a moving ceremony led by Arvol Looking Horse, Faith Spotted Eagle, Leonard Crow Dog, Phyllis Young, Ivan Looking Horse and many other natives of Turtle Island, the veterans were forgiven for actions taken to dehumanize the indigenous of this country, and a step towards solidarity has been made,” wrote Redhawk of the Standing Rock Rising facebook page. “We stand together as one to defend indigenous rights and Mother Earth. Our journey of solidarity has just begun.”
If ever there was an image to capture the spirit of the new ecological movement humanity so desperately needs, this is it. The West cannot begin to heal its relationship with the planet unless it comes to terms with the crimes it has committed. The wholesale theft and pillaging of native lands is one the greatest crimes in human history, and the rapid expansion of Western industrialized economics has created an environmental problem so huge that it might be irreversible.
The acknowledgment of these crimes and the humility in asking for forgiveness is the first step towards remediating the damage caused. The act taken by these veterans is a much needed symbol of this new path — a path defined by a recognition that we need to listen to indigenous peoples and learn from them before it is too late.
Here is a video of the incredibly moving ceremony:
Ben Cohen is the editor and founder of The Daily Banter. He lives in Washington DC where he does podcasts, teaches Martial Arts, and tries to be a good father. He would be extremely disturbed if you took him too seriously.