Thursday March 22, 2018   Last updated 21:15PM

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Standing with Standing Rock

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Standing with Standing Rock

It’s wonderful when you see our people supporting indigenous people around the world. A number of Maori including well known personality Te Hamua Nikora, recently headed to the US for a show of solidarity with our Native Indian whanau, the Sioux, who are protesting at Standing Rock in Dakota.

The first peoples say they weren’t’ properly consulted on the pipeline which would go through "sacred land". They are fighting the construction of a $3.7 billion oil pipeline. Along with the concerns over the pipeline desecrating their land they also fear it would pollute the tribe's only water supply.

Te Hamua posted updates on Facebook and was keenly followed by whanau back home. He said when they first arrived they prepared kai and as each group from the frontline returned to the base, they gave them hugs, waiata, haka and anything which would help lift their spirits. This would have been much appreciated as protesters had engaged with police who had used teargas and rubber bullets against them and it looks like that there have been numerous human rights breaches.

The Sioux were clearly made aware that Maori were standing with them and Te Hamua and his team have made many Maori proud with their support. Someone else who should be making us proud though is American president Barack Obama. I think people have forgotten that he is the current president of the USA and not Donald Trump.

Now you don’t have to be a rocket scientist to work out that Trump will do nothing to advance indigenous rights for the Sioux when he becomes president at the end of January. I am sure his hardline rightwing cabinet team will make sure of that and apparently Trump has close financial ties with Energy Transfer the Texas company building the pipeline.

However Obama still has an opportunity to help. He has shown some support over the last couple of years, met with Sioux leadership and promised to back them, his administration also demanded that meaningful consultation take place. However Energy Transfer has largely ignored Obamas requests, the violence is now right out of hand many protesters are being hurt and if things continue then it seems inevitable that there will be fatalities.

The Chairman of the Sioux Dave Archambault is now calling for Obama to directly intervene to stop the pipeline he says “our culture, our children and our homelands have been repeatedly stolen from us” and says “President Obama this cannot be your legacy”.

He is so right the Sioux story is no different to our Maori story and in fact the indigenous peoples story all over the world where indigenous rights get trampled on but hopefully Obama can give the Sioux of Standing Rock a happy ending.

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