Lawrence Hatter

Sinister forces are at work in North Dakota. At least that was the claim of the state’s former lieutenant governor, whose paranoid fears were right out of the eighteenth century, writes Lawrence Hatter, assistant professor of early American history at Washington State University.

Taking a leaf from a political playbook as old as the American Republic, then-Lt. Gov. Drew Wrigley dismissed the Standing Rock Sioux opposition to the planned oil pipeline in that state as the work of ominous powers. “The Native Americans are being used, absolutely being used,” Wrigley told reporters Dec. 8, “by these outside agitators.”

His statement could just have easily have been made in 1786 as 2016.

Dismissing the Standing Rock Sioux as dupes is a strategy intended to discredit the grounds of their opposition, while also undermining their efforts to form a broader coalition for political mobilization against the North Dakota pipeline.

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Grand Forks Herald