In a plea to President Obama to finish the job at Standing Rock, and not leave us with a temporary solution, Michelle Manning Barish, a political activist and contributor to The Hill, wrote, in part (click here to read the full letter):
As we prepare to say goodbye to President Obama, I ask: What will his legacy be?
Will history remember him as the president who promised to have the backs of the Native American people, and who kept his word?
Who made a final stand to put our citizens before corporate profit?
Or as the man who could have acted when it was not only morally imperative, but his responsibility — and who chose not to?
While I would like to thank the president for putting a “temporary stop” on the building of the Dakota Access pipeline under the Missouri river, I must ask: Why did he wait until the 11th hour and 59th minute to do so, and allow so many people to suffer hardship and brutality?
I appreciate the gesture, and it certainly eases the humanitarian strain for the holidays, but I very much doubt that he would have done this without the protests escalating to the point where thousands of our veterans self-deployed to protect our water — which shows his status of a man of principle to be in doubt.
This should have happened months ago.
Before I start popping champagne and everyone rolls up their sleeping bags, I have a few more questions.
A cynic might ask: Is Obama just washing his hands and letting someone else take the blame? Is this a temporary act to pacify people, run out the clock, and dump this on the “bad guy’s” desk in 48 days?
We don’t need forty-eight days. We need change that will last 48 years, and beyond that.
So, I’m wondering, where will the pipeline routing be and will environmental factors be considered?
Can you assure the Native American people that we will stop tearing up their land, by possibly making Standing Rock a national park or monument? That might be one way to prevent this from happening again.
I ask if the president could please finalize this before he leaves office to prevent that from happening. (We know about President-elect Donald Trump‘s investments in fossil fuels, so he cannot be trusted.)
The president must make a stand for the people of Standing Rock, immediately. In a permanent way, one that is substantial and provides permanent protection and legislation.
He must speak up. He must show up. He must for the people who are out there in subzero temperatures fighting to keep our water clean and protect sacred earth; for all Americans who value clean drinking water, not only for themselves, but for their children.
And he must make a stand against the human rights violations and violent atrocities that are happening right under his nose, to his American people, by our own police — on his watch.
His silence has been deafening. On Thanksgiving Day, while our brave citizens, most of whom are Native Americans, were being shot in the face with rubber bullets, pepper sprayed, beaten and arrested for peaceful prayer and protest, the president smiled for cameras and pardoned two turkeys.
And he hosted the White House Christmas party earlier this month, with his beautiful family, which would be really heartwarming if we didn’t know what was happening on the other side of the country.
Now he has finally spoken up, but he needs to finish the job.