It’s not surprising that the debate surrounding the Confederated Salish and Kootenai Tribes’ water compact has largely ignored the European settler history of our country; colonialism is designed to disconnect us from what we know in our hearts. I read the various opinions about the compact through the lens of a beneficiary of the brutal and genocidal process of colonization. My privilege, access to wealth, and social status are the result of a nation whose existence hinges on the fundamental policies and practices of violence, deception and theft inflicted on the Indigenous people of the land.
It’s easy for me to rationalize away any responsibility for past wrongs, but justice, it seems to me, requires that I resist this colonization of the mind and consider the unrectified oppression (i.e. the failure to pay appropriate reparations) of Native Americans in the wake of America’s Manifest Destiny. Maybe reconciliation should begin with a humble acknowledgment of the Indigenous wisdom that prevailed for millenniums of water and land sustainability before the Euro-Western mandate to conquer and privatize creation. Maybe the water compact debate’s true venue is in the human heart.
Bob Muth, Sr.
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