We still have a lot to learn today.

There have been a lot of headlines related to the oil pipeline crossing Indian lands. Not only has it caused a great deal of peaceful protest, but it has also stirred a lot of Americans to think. I am one of those American citizens.

In the midst of all the talk of citizenship and immigration, it seems like we have forgotten the Native American. These people have a story to tell, also. They have a legacy of treaties made and broken. They were here first and sadly one of the last to receive citizenship. Their story goes back to the beginning of American history.

Early Native Americans were of many different kinds. Some were very peaceful and some were warlike. There were tribes that were nomadic and others domesticated to agricultural pursuits. The native tribes of South America, for instance, had very advanced civilizations for their time. There was much to be said about the cultures that greeted Christopher Columbus when he met the Native Americans in 1492.

We still have a lot to learn today.

One of the saddest episodes in Native American history is when President Jackson ordered the five Indian tribes to be relocated to land across the Mississippi River. Many of those Indians would occupy the present state of Oklahoma. Many Indians were already occupying the present area of the Dakotas, Montana, and Washington. The plain fact remains that where the white European wanted valuable land, he did what was necessary to remove the Native American. If that did not happen peacefully, the white immigrant forced the Indian onto the Reservation.

Their freedom was taken away from them. Two distinct cultures came into conflict.

The overall question remains as to what we are willing to pay for oil. In another way of putting it, what are we willing to pay to run our homes and our cars? None of us likes to pay exorbitant prices for energy, but neither do Native Americans want their homelands desecrated. Is there room for compromise?

There are many alternate forms of energy. Wind energy is propping up all over the Great Plains. The conversion to usable form will take time. In our time of instant gratification, time does not seem like something we have. We all want it to happen right now.

Once again, two cultures are on a collision course. Is this the result of modern technology? Time is something we do not seem to have enough of.

Where do we go from here? There is no easy answer. It appears that modern wants are poised to overtake the traditions of the Indians. Maybe, just maybe, there will be a small area that can be left to the Native American. We could learn a lot from them.

Our culture is yearning to know the ways of conservation and preservation. We experienced the Dust Bowl days once. None of us wants to experience that again.

We cannot go back to the days when the buffalo roamed the Great Plains. However, I ask again, is there an opportunity for us to compromise on this issue? After all, the Native American was here first. They do deserve our respect. Will it be sacred land or cheap oil?

— Dwight Goering lives in Moundridge.