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Oglala Sioux Tribe Supports White Plume Documentary Work

..and the problem with that is... what?

Pat Powers practices his Olympic logic triple jump to accuse the Oglala Sioux Tribe of (gasp!) exercising its First Amendment rights to educate and defend South Dakotans. Here are the leaps of logic the corporate-fascist spin machine uses to blow smoke about the Oglala Sioux Tribe and the Keystone XL pipeline:

  1. Powers notes that the Oglala Sioux Tribal Council paid Debra White Plume $90,400. According to the minutes of the council's February 5, 2013, meeting, the council issued White Plume a contract to "continue her efforts in protecting natural resources such as Crow Butte against infringement such as mining, promoting the involvement of tribal youth in documenting these activities by training them how to make documentary films and continue work on the women’s reproductive health projects."
  2. Powers then goes Googling and finds Debra White Plume opposes the Keystone XL pipeline.
  3. Powers then concludes that the Oglala Sioux Tribe is paying White Plume $90,400 to protest the pipeline (a conclusion for which he punctuates with a question mark, a classic rhetorical trick of putting an accusation into the public square without having to take full responsibility—"I was only asking a question!").
  4. From this conclusion, he leaps to accusing the Oglala Sioux Tribe of fiscal irresponsibility: "Because I would imagine $90,000 could do a lot of good elsewhere besides paying for a personal agenda."

White Plume's contract with the Oglala Sioux Tribe doesn't appear to be about Keystone XL. She has been involved with producing the documentaries Crying Earth Rise Up, on the dangers of uranium mining, and Young Lakota, on abortion, politics, and youth activism on Pine Ridge. Both OST Resolution 13-24 clearly acknowledges both of those filmmaking projects, not Keystone XL. The text of the resolution could be interpreted to include anti-pipeline activities, but the items explicitly mentioned point to activities beyond the one link Powers produces in his lazy Googling and meme manufacturing.

Debra White Plume has been involved in activism against the Keystone XL pipeline. The Oglala Sioux Tribe is organizing opposition to Keystone XL. Even if last year's contract included funding for White Plume's anti-Keystone XL activism, the tribe is not throwing money away on what Powers dismisses as a mere personal agenda. In opposing Keystone XL, White Plume is fighting a political battle to protect the environment and the property rights of all South Dakotans. South Dakotans should thank her for standing up for their land rights more than Big Business Republican TransCanada capitulators like Pat Powers, who have consistently, since TransCanada's first invasion of our state, taken the side of this foreign corporation over local landowners.

And let's allow the extreme. Let's remove the question mark from Powers's accusation. Let's suppose OST Resolution 13-24 is lying, and the tribe is really spending every penny of that $90,400 to fight TransCanada's second pipeline across South Dakota. Why would it be wrong for one entity to spend money to oppose a project but not for another entity to spend money to support it? Powers has never complained about the millions TransCanada has spent on television ads to convince us that Keystone XL is all jobs and puppies and flowers.

In short, in the Powers-TransCanada world, the rich can do what they want, but the common man dare not speak up against our corporate overlords.

Related: Investing in vital public infrastructure would create more jobs than the Keystone XL pipeline. In opposing Keystone XL, the Oglala Sioux Tribe is pointing us to better economic priorities than the GOP.


  1. Jim 2014.01.25

    Can't believe some of the crap he comes up with. Maybe he could look into some of the perpetual campaigning that political appointees do on the public dime.

  2. interested party 2014.01.25

    Stoking KXL and coal from the Powder River Basin is expected to compound the wreaking of environmental havoc on the western coast of the US: just part of the GOP plan to kill off Democrats.

  3. Porter Lansing 2014.01.25

    Pat Powers would be laughed out of anywhere but older, angry, white-privleged conservative bastions like South of Dakota. Luckily for us his kind are vanishing from politics.

  4. Mark 2014.01.25

    I'll give Pat credit. He is very efficient at collecting and forwarding press releases, but whenever he writes on his own is rather comical. And I love how he cherry picks which comments are allowed and deleted.

  5. Donald Pay 2014.01.25

    I believe there is a multi-generational history here. PP and family have supported various projects that are ultimately rejected by the people, both white and Indian, of South Dakota. Anytime he sees Indians and whites agreeing on an issue, he reacts in a way that would try to divide whites and Indians. It's been an M.O. in South Dakota for a long time.

  6. interested party 2014.01.25

    James Anaya just had a sit down with Leonard Peltier: expect the UN haters to start howling again.

  7. Lynn G. 2014.01.25

    Number one isn't the Oglala Sioux Tribe a sovereign entity or nation? What business is it of Pat's anyways? Second Hasn't there already been issues with environmental damage done to Tribal lands by various corporations such as a result Uranium mining and other precious metals, oil, gas and coal? They have every right to be concerned and Keystone XL is not transporting sweet crude. It is highly corrosive and toxic heavy tar sands oil which places an even higher risk for accidents, pipe leaks and ground water contamination.

    Keystone XL will not employ the amount of jobs they claim and once it is refined it will be sold on the open market which could end up in China while we take the environmental risk. This is not even counting the pollution and amount of energy involved to extract, transport and refine Tar Sands Oil.

  8. Lynn G. 2014.01.25

    Besides $90k is nothing compared to the amount of money and power behind the juggernaut Keystone XL

  9. Roger Cornelius 2014.01.25

    If the Oglala Sioux Tribe chooses to pay Debbie or anyone else $90,000 to be an activist against Keystone, so be it. Contrary to Pat Powers opinion that the money could be better used elsewhere, there is no better use than to pay activist or film producers to fight Keystone.

    It is money well spent, the only problem is see with this is that the tribe doesn't have enough money to pay for more activism.

    As for Pat Powers opinion on anything to do with Native Americans, well, "Up Yours Powers".

  10. Deb Geelsdottir/ 2014.01.25

    Good answer Roger!

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