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NDN Collective Sees War and Sanctions as Pro-Corporate Assault on People and Planet, Calls for Centering Ukrainian Voices

In November, 2021, the Rapid City-based NDN Collective published “Demilitarization Is Decolonization,” a manifesto declaring the violence against people and planet wrought by the United States military-police industrial complex unacceptable and calling for the dissolution of American militarism.

So what American response is acceptable in the face of military aggression like Vladimir Putin’s invasion of Ukraine? None, says NDN Collective:

As the People of Russia launch waves of anti-war protests, sacrificing their freedom and safety, we must dig deeper and look beyond the propaganda from all governments involved. The invasion of Ukraine is deplorable and illegal – but there is no response from the US Military that will end in good. We must be both in solidarity with the People of Ukraine and in opposition to US militarism and imperialism.

War only benefits corporations, specifically war profiteers and the oil & gas industry. It is the People who will suffer under sanctions. The US is not the savior here. So, I call on People to continue to center the voices of the people who will be hurt most by the invasion. Lastly, I challenge us to ask ourselves why Russia invading Ukraine has gained more criticism than the so-called US invading Iraq, Afghanistan or any of the other Nations it has invaded and/or still occupies? As we welcome Ukrainian refugees – as we should – we should ask ourselves why there is no outcry about the mistreatment of Haitan refugees or lack of welcome to refugees from the Middle east?

We are in a moment, where we have to both address the immediate suffering and deepen our understanding of how these major world issues are connected [Krystal Two Bulls, NDN Collective LANDBACK Campaign Director, in press release, NDN Collective, 2022.02.28].

I hate to disagree with good people fighting for justice against militaristic oppressors here on this continent, but I have to wonder: do the Ukrainian citizens firing Kalashnikovs and throwing Molotov cocktails at Russian invaders to kick the enemy out of their home cities feel their fight will only benefit corporations? Should America’s past and ongoing sins prevent America from sending arms to help Ukrainians defend themselves? If we center the voices of the people who will be hurt most by the invasion, what do we make of the voice of President Volodymyr Zelensky, whom Russia intends to kill, when he asks for ammunition?

Or, to put things in counter-historical context, if a somehow enlightened Queen Victoria or Tsar Alexander II had offered Crazy Horse and Geronimo rifles and sanctions against the United States, would NDN Collective have advised their ancestors to reject those interventions in the American genocide? Would the principle of rejecting militarism and imperialism override the immediate benefits of stopping today’s aggressors in their tracks?

Everything NDN Collective says about the war in Ukraine, the American response, and American history has moral merit. I suspect President Biden is aware of much of the moral case NDN Collective makes, and that awareness, as well as fear of the global destruction a full-on war between nuclear powers could cause.

But moral arguments only work if the generals on both sides are open to them, and Vladimir Putin has never been a man for morals. If I were President, I’d keep inviting Putin to peace talks, but I’d continue to ratchet up sanctions to crush Putin’s economy, and I’d need NDN Collective and my Joint Chiefs of Staff to make a really compelling case to keep me from sending air support to Ukraine right now.


  1. jerry 2022-03-01 14:16

    Putin was put into power, the people can take that power away. The only way to get that to happen is to force the hand of the people. By that I mean to hit the streets to demand change. The only way to hit the streets is when there is no other alternative like when you’re broke and hungry. Sanctions are the only way to make that happen and they will only work when the world is behind them.

    Dakota people found out that if you do not have complete support when you’re broke and hungry, you might be hanged in Mankato and the land be annexed. I do agree with NDN that war is not the answer.

  2. John 2022-03-01 15:57

    The lessons here are clear. If a nation wants peace, it will keep and/or acquire nukes. UKR traded its substantial nukes for 2 pieces of paper and empty pledges from the US and UK. Doesn’t that sound familiar.

    Now IS THE TIME to attack the Russian Army in UKR and its staging areas in Belarus and RUS.
    The US /NATO/EU can do this through proxies like turning the new UKR International Brigade into divisions; through re-establishing our histories of: The Eagle Squadron, The Flying Tigers, La Fayette Corps.
    Now is NOT THE TIME to play Chamberlain . . . then decide to get involved AFTER millions are dead, wounded, homeless, refuges. One of the usual (morally bankrupt) ways of US war is getting involved at halftime (Japan’s world war began in 1933; Germany’s in 1938) — then make hay with the “rebuilding contracts”. Stop the RUS sponsored destruction now.

    Sanctions worked real well against Japan until December 7, 1941. Sanctions are timid and feeble ways to fight a war, rarely working, meanwhile thousands die, are homeless, cities, and cultures are destroyed.

  3. All Mammal 2022-03-01 16:48

    Rule one of war: there’s always a pretense to a tyrant’s tyranny. Lies lies and lies are the excuses for war. The chicken hawks are all gaining something at the poor’s expense and prevaricating why it is necessary. Yes, when they pick a fight and want to dance sit them tf down and dont let them back up Like we should have done to the southerners not willing to adopt the constitution of the United States of America. If we had, we would not be dealing with people like noemie blowme or trump. Why is it the more destruction to human life and to the good earth, the more respect is earned? The Duponts, JP Morgan, war profiteers, oil tycoons. “Your dinner is comped, sir. We are so happy you came to poison our water and let us eek by on crap wages and thank you for my kid’s strange new cancer. Such a powerful image of a real man of wealth and prestige”
    “Oh, you’re a teacher/EMT/social worker/marine biologist, we’re only serving crackers. You pay now.”

    Rule number two: spoken from a WWII badass on a PBS Veterans day special, “War is boys on one hilltop being told to kill boys on another hilltop. And all it is is very very sad.” Said while a tear came down the wrinkly old man’s face and his quiet, worn voice cracked.

    Putin is flexing because he is a piss poor leader. He ain’t no Sitting Bull. He wouldn’t share his supper with his country’s hungry. He is giving people like Noemie blowmie an excuse to sneak their limy hooks into the Nation’s precious parks and lands for exploratory fossil fuel mining. For private profit. It doesn’t even matter what her pretense is; leave it alone! According to her speech at CPAC, she does not have a clue what that land is she can’t wait to get her poison in and suck dry. IT IS NOT OURS. IT IS LAND HELD IN TRUST THAT BELONGS TO OUR CHILDREN. Damn thieving ass mongrels. Its not ours! Thats the whole point when they promised the nation’s beautiful parks to the future generations; because they knew if for whatever excuse was used to get ahold of it, we would destroy it and eventually turn it into a parking lot.

    Hate to say it but boys love war. They play it as kids and continue into men playing war games. I ponder how men in my generation would differ if we had the draft. And a right of passage other than a stint in prison. Go, help Ukraine and come back with it hopefully out of your system. Then maybe we won’t have so many gun thirsty magat aggressors wanting to blow stuff up all the time. Sorry guys, but you’re always up to some no good bs. No one on here though(:

  4. Porter Lansing 2022-03-01 17:47

    American Indians and Alaska Natives serve in the Armed Forces at five times the national average and have served with distinction in every major conflict for over 200 years. Considering the population of the U.S. is approximately 1.4 percent Native and the military is 1.7 percent Native (not including those that did not disclose their identity), Native people have the highest per-capita involvement of any population to serve in the U.S. military.

    I think that alone makes a collective NDN statement pertinent above and beyond any other American group.

  5. Mark Anderson 2022-03-01 18:07

    You have to ask yourself what so many Republicans love Putin?

  6. DaveFN 2022-03-01 22:03

    Agreed on all accounts with Cory.

    While the assertions of the NDN are of great spiritual concern in the long run they are of little earthly good in terms of what is required in the current situation regarding Ukraine.

    There is a time to philosophize and there is a time to downright act.

  7. Cory Allen Heidelberger Post author | 2022-03-02 05:28

    John, if we start picking off Russian aircraft over Ukraine, bombing the Russian supply lines and staging areas in Belarus and Russia, and sinking warships in the Black Sea, do we end up with mushroom clouds over New York, Washington, and Omaha?

  8. Cory Allen Heidelberger Post author | 2022-03-02 05:34

    Porter, yes, the high service rate of American Indians and Alaska Natives in the U.S. military is worth talking about. I wonder if NDN Collective could put pressure on the military by organizing a Native boycott of the armed forces. For Indigenous people whose service is motivated by the paycheck (and if you’re on a reservation with high unemployment, who can blame you for taking the GI Bill?), could NDN Collective organize its own Indigenous Corps of Warriors in the sense of the word they explain in the November manifesto? Could they raise money to support a permanent community service corps that would do good work in Indian Country and support peaceful action against corporate-colonialist projects like Dakota Access?

    Of course, such an Indigenous Corps still won’t keep Putin from flattening Kyiv.

  9. Cory Allen Heidelberger Post author | 2022-03-02 06:20

    All Mammal, we do face the challenge of not letting the desire to defend an ally bleed into indulgence of our animal instinct to do violence. But we face a similar risk when we seek political power: power corrupts, but we need to seek and use power to make change. Driving a nice car can tempt us to speed and engage in other bad behavior that endangers others, but we can’t just park the car and stay home all the time for fear of succumbing to our weaknesses.

    I’ll take arguments against the just war theory. I’ll entertain that no war is a good war. But are some wars necessary?

  10. John 2022-03-02 08:35

    Cory, the question is: would one stop Hitler in 1938 in the Sudetenland, 1939 in Poland, Tojo & predecessors in 1931 in Manchuria, 1937 in China . . . or just sanctimoniously clutch ones hanky using hope as a method while millions more are killed, refugees, homeless, cities and cultures are destroyed?
    Ameri-centric thinking pretends that WWII began on December 7, 1941.
    Putin’s goon revealed his map . . . next are Moldova, Romania, then Hungary.

    When people tell you who they are — BELIEVE THEM.
    Stop evil now. There is no advantage to letting evil fester for millions of more lost lives. Let’s ask Neville.

  11. All Mammal 2022-03-02 11:07

    Like the Tao Te Ching says the sage does not celebrate when he wins the war. He mourns having to do it. When wrong is being done, correct it to the point where wrong won’t ever be getting back up and brushing off leaving you to forever check over your shoulder. Put it down, once and for all. Strike Putin right through his teeny head. No more talks. No coddling. Assassinate him and save lives and infrastructure. Like I said, when bad guys want to tango, unleash our boys to go do what they have been training for. Stop the bad guy. For good. Like the racist southerners after losing the war, they should have been put down because they could never be trusted and we are still weary of their racist terrorism and treasonous lineage. When you are forced to get buck, euthanize. And write it down and remember so we see the signs and correct it in the future.

    I wish I had looked at NDN Collective’s web page before I went there last week to ask them of I could hang the banner I made with the names of the missing kids over the side of one of their buildings. They really weren’t enthused with stuff like I was asking. They were very….oriented towards a certain image. Once I was turned away, I checked them out online and realized they recieved a $50,000,000 grant from the Busch Foundation. So they have wealthy sponsorship and are global and have to look a certain part. All while they are in the exact neighborhood where stabbings and shootings and beatings occure weekly at the neighboring apartments. I have never seen their presence to curtail the violence in their own neighborhood. They all certainly had flashy trucks and came out of their offices to stare at me making my pitch. They told me no and sent my commoner self with dirty boots on my way. I wanted to have permission where I hung the names but that wasn’t an option. Hopefully it is still hanging and the names are read and the kids are found safe.

  12. All Mammal 2022-03-02 11:19

    I don’t know how to share a pic of what is hanging from a rr bridge, along N. Maple ave in North Rapid City, under the warning sign stating you are entering the north Rapid City district. We certainly don’t have road signs indicating when you are entering the south or west sides of town. There is also a Native painted mural under the bridge just to clarify what the North side warning means for the visitors.

  13. chris 2022-03-02 14:04

    So, Ukraine doesn’t have a right to their LANDBACK?

  14. John 2022-03-02 15:32

    Chris, I dunno know.
    Maybe the Ukranians, EU, NATO, and US should do the dying cockroach since we are living under Putin’s nuclear blackmail. Just give up now. Oh, and those indigenous lands . . . gone as part of the nuclear blackmail.
    “Peace in our time, baby,” declared Neville.

    Meanwhile, imagine your kids, yes, your children, at your neighborhood block party for the purpose of making jellied cocktails for your new visitors.
    Jellied because like naplam, the fire sticks to the guests.

    The UKR brewery that converted its beer production to cocktails was bombed after a fool bragged about it.

  15. Cory Allen Heidelberger Post author | 2022-03-02 15:49

    I appreciate the comparison to WW2, John. If we had picked off Hitler at the border of the Sudetenland or Poland, a whole lot more Jews might still be alive. We might not have firebombed Dresden, and we might not have dropped atomic bombs on Japan. (Of course, then I race off to alternative history in which the founding of Israel was delayed or completely forestalled in the absence of a Holocaust, and maybe the Soviets developed nuclear bombs before we did.)

  16. oldtimerDon 2022-03-02 17:27

    Kudos, Cory and NDN Collective
    This piece and the comments really start to pick at the scab that affects many people in our country.
    Very true that we (primarily males) glorify, honor, battle and war. Until that changes, we will just, as a civilization, lurch from one conflict to another, until the world is destroyed and only insects survive.
    I believe humans and only about two or three animal species destroy to take over others homes and families. Most animal species only fight for protection or survival.
    Some made a great point in the comments–reinstating the draft for all people over age 18 should be implemented. No exceptions for those with bone spurs.

  17. larry kurtz 2022-03-02 19:06

    Recall Citgo Petroleum and President Hugo Chavez, the man reviled by many white people for referring to President George Weasel Bush as the devil on the floor of the United Nations, had the respect of tribal nations for supporting Indigenous American communities when Republicans refused.

  18. All Mammal 2022-03-02 22:43

    I don’t know if land is ever given back. Stolen, inherited, claimed, won, conquered, taken, purchased, or acquired through murky deals. Such concepts and practices seem cheap since land ownership is a concept little children inherently find to be a foreign concept.

    The land owns us. We are not necessary for it. Stewardship is not ownership. Too bad such grody ideals prevailed to this day. Some feel entitled to own all the land and build big fences around it. However, I would love to inherit some land. Oh.

  19. All Mammal 2022-03-02 23:15

    I love and appreciate ya droppin’ some Maya Angelou, Mr. John. They always expose the truth the first time telling you who they are.

    Holy cow, President Biden got me pumped last night. Mr. Cory’s blog and the lively crew keep it going as if manually airing up a bike tire. Ahhh yeah. Feels damn good the be an American. Be even cooler if every Haitian, Ukrainian, Uyghur, Lakota, Aboriginal, Tongan, Palestinian, Little Prince from astroid B-612 felt sheltered and loved by their soil too.

    Legalized or not, this stuff works hey

  20. Caleb 2022-03-03 00:16

    This post and discussion brought much to mind:

    1) Ukrainians have more than AKs and molotov cocktails. Let’s not pretend other countries haven’t provided them with arms, including anti-aircraft and anti-tank weapons.

    2) I don’t think the hypothetical situation Cory raised accurately reflects the conundrum we see now, because land, food, and capital access were so different then, as were the weapons. Just some quick thoughts – there was no threat of bombs dropping from the sky and leveling homes (let alone nuclear war), far fewer people were stuck in cities unable to grow their own food, and nobody had most their meager wealth in purely digital format. Besides…we live in the US which has spent a vast majority of its hundreds of years in existence invading and otherwise meddling in foreign countries (including Ukraine since at least 2014), so you’d have a hard time convincing me our government is suddenly enlightened.

    3) People still debate morality. A significant reason the Cold War turned out as it did was that the US and the USSR thought each other were simply evil. Putin has done countless things I would consider wrong, but I recognize a veil exists between everything media have told me he’s done and what he’s actually done, and that the same goes for his alleged motives. This is no different from our own government invading foreign lands in the name of democracy and liberation while their true motive seems to have been anything but those – think Bush, Rumsfeld, Cheney, et al. and Iraq. That we don’t understand any possible morality in Putin does not mean he has no morality. Since dehumanizing others makes waging war a bit easier, I urge others to keep that in mind.

    4) Seems to me that Vox article lays out more than plenty reason to avoid sending air support to Ukraine.

    5) Sanctions are not the only thing that causes protests, and even if you believe they are the most likely thing to cause protests in a place as totalitarian as Russia, how would you expect those who protest out of desperation would fare? I’d suggest no better than those who protest before desperation and find themselves arrested and abused. Sanctions are not really a way to express support for the Russian people. My Iranian friends surely never felt like the world supported them when other countries put sanctions on their government.

    6) If a nation wanting peace induces keeping and/or acquiring nukes, why do so few countries have them, and why do so few seek them? Seems to me plenty nations see alternatives.

    7) Talking about proxy wars so casually is disgusting given the global history of proxy wars, and the US involving itself in one would likely increase US/Russia tensions, especially since the US goaded the USSR into Afghanistan (hoping it would be their “Vietnam”) where an opposition the US trained and armed waited and came out victorious.

    8) Yes, we can’t spend our whole lives philosophizing; we have to eat and work and stuff, too. However, action in war without philosophy behind it is most often foolish, I’d argue. Just look at how ravenous our nation was after 9/11. Most of the hijackers were Saudis, and Saudi Arabia suffered essentially nothing while we destroyed Afghanistan and Iraq. Barbara Lee was the only member of Congress to vote against the 2001 NDAA for crying out loud! Let’s not be our usual rash selves while considering Ukraine.

    9) Mushroom clouds not developing over New York, Washington, and Omaha would not mean mushroom clouds developing over distant lands would create no problem for the whole world, including us.

    10) Whether a war is necessary or not depends upon your chosen end which would necessitate or not necessitate a war. It’s a question with a subjective answer, and not an easy one at that. We’re the only country to have dropped a nuclear weapon on another country, but we’re not guaranteed to be the only ever. I’d say the war is now necessary for the Ukrainians to survive, but that doesn’t mean it’s necessary for the US to send personnel over there.

    11) I suspect that if the NDN knew what single assassination could prevent millions of deaths, they’d consider taking that shot, but I don’t think anybody knows how many deaths the Ukraine/Russia conflict will spur or that assassinating Putin would prevent them all. Don’t take that as arguing against any assassination, though – such is simply outside my purview.

    12) If anything, American myopia from indoctrination gets people thinking WWII started in ’41. Some of us understand American companies aided the Nazis before the war started, and continued doing so after it started, while public perception of the Nazis leading up to the war was mixed.

    13) I highly doubt Lukashenko let something as important as Russia’s war strategy slip to the global public. Not everyone approaches a situation without intent to mislead. We can’t yet conclude Russia will follow that strategy.

    14) I’m with All Mammal regarding land ownership. The whole concept of ownership is complete abstraction of the mere process of coexistence with and control (whether direct or indirect) of something. IMO, it’s only useful for making sure we meet all living creatures’ basic needs for a comfortable life before a peaceful death, and beyond that we’d be better off sharing much more, not that I’m an example to follow. Idealistic, I know. But really, as long as billions of people live on this planet while far fewer than that own all the land and resources, war is unlikely to go away.

    I think anyone who believes any particular path is quickest to minimizing unnecessary death, suffering, and climate destruction would do well to practice some restraint, then consider that the US had provided Ukraine with assistance before the invasion (, and that maybe we would understand Putin’s position a bit more if our country was the one suffering from containment (terrible headline:

    The invasion is unacceptable, and I wish it would end, but I’m at a loss for any wise way to end it. Perhaps our world’s billionaires could do something about it. Oh wait, instead they’ll use this to advertise their space stuff.

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