At first, we thought the black liquid was oil, that we’d struck it rich and that we’d be able to live high our entire lives in leisure and pull our tribe, our families, and our community from the pits of poverty. We actually started listing all the ways we’d spend the money. My first choice was a Ferrari. You see we were foolish young men barely out of high school. The oil so it was, belonged to Rick’s Grandparents who owned the land. The problem, was a big problem, Rick’s Grandparents were two of fifteen Elders of the Northern Texas Chippewa Tribe. When we told him about the oil, he just laughed.
“Boys why do you think we call that area of the reservation the valley of black waters.”
So our Ferrari dreams died faster than they began. The Elders would never allow the industrialization of Reservation land, especially for the extraction of oil. Over the years Rick, Jimmy, and I took a stab at trying to convince the tribal Counsel to develop the Oil Reserve for the financial sake of the Tribe and for our own protection.
“How long do you think the White Man will wait once they truly understand what is here before they do what they have always done and take what is ours.” I had said after returning to the reservation from college.
But our pleas always fell on deaf ears. Years later the last of the Elders from the original council, Running Waters, Rick's Grandad passed away. Rick turned from opportunist Entrepreneur to defender of the tribe its land and heritage. It seemed the prosperous future that we could have from the “Black Gold”, would never come. Then it happened, Aron Oil filed a Lawsuit against the tribe claiming that some 10 years ago the Tribe Council had granted them permission to extract the oil through a lease. Of course the current council refused the lease not believing it to be real. In true Occupier fashion the courts and the White Man Government took what is ours.
T. Mark Mangum, 25 April 2017