This is going to end badly. Whatever the issues. Whoever is right or wrong. This is two groups, one sanctioned by legal authority, one claiming moral authority, on a collision course. In a certain way, what is going to happen at Standing Rock has all the logic of a bar fight. Two sides, unable or unwilling to back down, neither really wanting violence, but both willing to use it. It escalates and finally, inexorably, there will be blood.
I had not been paying much attention to this, but one of my sons is planning to attend the veteran's protest next week so I have started to try to understand what is going on and how it got to where it is.
It is hard to separate signal from noise. Clearly almost all the protesters are not Sioux. The pipeline had legal approval. The police have already gone to violence and seemed prepared and willing to use more. Information available online is polluted by both sides.
What should be remembered is that every law, rule, regulation, and executive order is always backed by deadly force. If you refuse to follow them long enough and hard enough, the government will come with whatever force necessary and kill you to get compliance.
Whether you refuse to pay taxes, start collecting rainwater off your roof, or just refuse to lay on your face in the street at a traffic stop, compliance will be achieved.
When the British Regulars marched up the post road to Concord and Lexington to collect the powder and shot from the colonials, it was all about force and compliance.
Remember the Battle of Blair Mountain? A confrontation between 10,000 armed coal miners and 3,000 law enforcement personnel in the 1920s? A million rounds were fired. The U.S. Army was called in, airplanes were used to drop bombs and gas on the miners. Guerilla tactics. Once the Army was involved, the miners capitulated and it slowly faded from memory. This example, which deals with corporations, energy resources, and competing interests, might be the best one.
To use an example from the history of the region, refusing to settle on a government sanctioned reservation and trying to live your life on your land by your own rules will be met by deadly force. The survivors will get to deal with the Bureau of Indian Affairs.
And finally, for anyone that thinks it won't happen in the modern era under a Democratic President, there's always Waco.