President Obama gives an evasive answer to the questions of the Dakota Access Pipeline at a talk in Malaysia. He acknowledged the historical treatment of Native Americans was horrible. He claimed his administration had done more for Native Americans than previous administrations.

Obama finally addressed the question, claiming he could not give any details on the particular issue. Obama stated that a lot of these matters were tangled up in laws. Finally, he said he would ask his team how they were doing on the issue and promptly ended his public talk. Obama's nonresponse is beyond disappointing to the Native Americans he claims his administration has helped.

Native American support for Obama

During his 2008 campaign, President Obama made many promises; including helping Native Americans. Every minority in the United States hoped things would change under the first black President. There was high-level participation by Native Americans in Obama's 2008 campaign.

Including an organization called First Americans for Obama. Native American issues gained mainstream media visibility for the first time in decades. After the election, Obama's transition team included high-level participation by Native Americans.

At one point, Barack Obama was even honored with the name Barack Black Eagle by leaders of the Crow Nation. Thousands of Native Americans participated in helping Barack Obama to become the first black President of the United States. So one would think that the question of the Dakota Access Pipeline through traditional Native American lands deserves direct action by President Obama.

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History of broken promises

Native Americans are used to having promises broken by the heads of state of the United States. The United States has violated every single treaty it has ever signed with the indigenous nations within its claimed territorial boundaries. Several American heads of state have used the empty gesture of a verbal apology to Native Americans for past mistreatment but have done little to change the legal, political and economic structure that allows for this mistreatment to continue.

Hin-mah-too-yah-lat-kekt the great leader of the Nez Perce (Nimipu) nation, known to whites as Chief Joseph, once reportedly said, 'Good words do not last long until they amount to something.' Many of President Obama's former supporters in both the 2008 election and the 2012 election feel that his good words have amounted to little or nothing.

President Obama's claims of how much his administration has reportedly done for Native Americans doesn't reflect the reality of everyday life for most Native Americans.

Obama's remark that the Dakota Access Pipeline issue is tangled up in laws is worthy of note.

Obama graduated from Harvard Law school, was the first black editor of the Harvard Law Review, and taught constitutional law for 12 years. Making his inarticulate response surprising. The tangled web of laws is the United States federal Indian law. These laws are not made by indigenous peoples, but by Congress and by the federal court system.

They outline how the relationship between the United States and indigenous nations will work. Indigenous peoples had no input in most of this body of law. It is largely a racist legal system of internal colonization relegating indigenous people to second class citizens within an economically and militarily dominant settler state. A settler state occupying traditional indigenous territory against the will of indigenous peoples.

These laws are used to allow powerful private interests to invade and destroy indigenous territories to acquire natural resources and make billions of dollars.

As St. Augustine first said, 'An unjust law is no law at all.' Indigenous peoples reject these unjust laws and any action undertaken to utilize them; whether Obama is with them or not. Despite his many promises to Native Americans during his 2008 campaign, Obama's statement indicates he will not stop Dakota Access. His good words amount to nothing.