In A Healing Moment, Veterans Apologized To Native Americans And Asked For Their Forgiveness

"We've hurt you in so many ways."

After months of weathering rubber bullets, tear gas, and water cannons, as well as a creeping icy front at Sacred Stone Camp, protestors against the Dakota Access Pipeline (DAPL) scored a monumental victory. The Army Corps of Engineers denied an easement to allow DAPL to pass under Lake Oahe in North Dakota, right next to the Standing Rock reservation. The Standing Rock Sioux Nation had been protesting the pipeline's route since it was proposed, arguing that it posed a threat to their water source and sacred burial sites. What was initially a struggle for clean water rights turned into a fight for Native American rights and sovereignty. 

And they won. 

Celebrating the announcement alongside the self-dubbed "water protectors" were about 2,000 veterans who traveled to Standing Rock over the weekend. Organized by Wes Clark Jr. and Michael A. Wood Jr., veterans themselves, the 2,000-strong group was there to act as "human shields" for the protestors against excessive police force.

But that's not all they did there. Clark, an army vet now pursuing screenwriting in Hollywood, also did something long overdue but rarely ever acknowledged by people in power today. In a video capturing the powerful moment, Clark and a group of veterans stood before Native elders and sought their forgiveness for the atrocities committed against them. 

Clark said:

We came. We fought you. We took your land. We signed treaties that we broke. We stole minerals from your sacred hills. We blasted the faces of our presidents on your sacred mountain. And we took, still, more land. And then we took your children. And then we tried to take your language. We tried to eliminate your language that God gave you and the creator gave you. We didn't respect you. We polluted your Earth. We've hurt you in so many ways. And we have come to say that we are sorry. We are at your service and we beg for your forgiveness.

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The video has been shared and liked thousands of times, and many Twitter users commented on how moving their apology was.

Centuries of oppression, indignity, and disregard have left Native Americans far behind as others reap the benefits of globalization and social progress. A staggering percentage of Native Americans live below the poverty line. Many struggle with addiction issues, with scant resources provided to help them. The life expectancy of Native Americans is below that of all other ethnic groups in the U.S. And this pattern is echoed across the world where indigenous people's culture and history were razed by colonialists.

Their victory at Standing Rock was hailed as an example of the power of peaceful protest, but to Native Americans it was a taste of justice that was a long time coming. 

A Plus has reached out to Clark for comment.

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