Trump, Jackson, Native Americans, and a Pipeline


I’ve been thinking today about Trump’s decision to revive the Dakota Access and Keystone XL pipeline project.  The decision reverses Barack Obama’s rejection of the pipeline for environmental reasons.

Anyone who has followed this story knows that several Native American groups are protesting the construction of the pipeline because of the impact it will have on sacred sites and their way of life.

Trump favors the pipeline because it will bring jobs to American workers.  It is too early to know the demographic make-up of the people who will get these new jobs, but I assume most of them will be white working-class people–the kind of people who voted for Trump.

Trump thus favors white jobs over the preservation of Indian lands.

I seem to recall another American POTUS who did something similar.  In the 1830s President Andrew Jackson backed economically self-interested white men in the southeast who had a lust for land.  These were the men who voted him into office in 1828.  Jackson, who claimed to have a mandate from the people (read white male voters),  ousted several Indian tribes from their sacred sites and sent them on the so-called Trail of Tears.

Jackson and Native American scholars:  I know the analogy is far, far from perfect, but I am curious about what you think of it.  Am I on to something here?

3 thoughts on “Trump, Jackson, Native Americans, and a Pipeline

  1. I do not claim expertise on Jackson and Indian Removal. However, amidst adjuncting now a seminar on American Indian History, and given my familiarity with the history of federal policy towards Natives, Trump and his administration are probably assuming what Jackson and his associates assumed: Indians need to stop asking for special privileges and just assimilate, or die. The reformers then also wanted assimilation, but were willing to be more gradualist about it. Also, current debate in the field: genocide as the best term for white-Indian relations, or ethnic cleansing? I lean toward ethnic cleansing with cultural genocide as the best overall descriptors.


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