A side-by-side comparison of the Dakota pipeline protest and Oregon militant verdicts.

The concurrent events of the Dakota Access Pipeline protest and Malheur National Wildlife Refuge verdict on Oct. 27, 2016, shed light on our country's history of scrappy rebel underdogs, land disputes, and inequality.

On the same day Native American protesters in North Dakota were attacked by police armed with LRAD sound cannons for standing up to a private oil corporation, a group of insurgent ranchers calling themselves Citizens for Constitutional Freedom (C4CF) were acquitted on federal charges after taking up arms and occupying government property in Oregon.

These two different groups of people each fought back against some incarnation of The Man, but with very different results.


To understand the irony of this, let's take a step-by-step look at the motivations for, and responses to, each occupation.

Ron His Horse Is Thunder (left), a spokesman for the Standing Rock Sioux; George Stanek, a member of the Malheur militants. Photos by Robyn Beck/AFP/Getty Images and Joe Raedle/Getty Images.

The inciting incident of both occupations was a dispute over land rights — each with its own unique and complicated history.

The occupation of Malheur National Wildlife Refuge was a retaliation for what the ranchers saw as unfair charges in an arson case — not a contestation of guilt, but a protest that the government shouldn't have re-jailed the arsonists because of its own minimum-sentencing error. (The arsonists, however, rejected the Malheur occupation.)

The conflict with the Standing Rock Sioux of North Dakota has to do with an in-progress oil pipeline that could threaten the water supply for thousands of people. It also risks desecrating sacred tribal sites that they argued should have been protected by an oft-ignored treaty from 1851.

Citizens for Constitutional Freedom leader Ammon Bundy. Photo by Justin Sullivan/Getty Images.

Religious freedom is a tenet of American culture, and the actions of both groups were certainly influenced by their religious affiliations.

C4CF is led by Ammon Bundy, a Mormon whose family has a history of insurrection against the federal government. He claimed to be acting under divine orders.

The Standing Rock Sioux and other Native American tribes that joined in their protest also engaged in religious practices, such as prayer circles and ceremonial pipes. Unfortunately, authorities allegedly interpreted these rituals as threats on more than one occasion.

Photo by Tom Stromme/The Bismarck Tribune via AP.

The tribes in North Dakota employed various means of nonviolent protest. C4CF, on the other hand, didn't hesitate to escalate the situation with firearms — and, sadly, they were treated more civilly than the tribes.

Oregon authorities even offered to protect C4CF if they left the wildlife refuge.

Bundy met on numerous occasions with both local sheriffs and FBI agents looking to negotiate a cease-fire or a peaceful transfer of power. During the occupation, militants were allowed to come and go from the refuge and even held a press conference on the premises.

It was several weeks before federal agents put a plan into action to arrest any of the C4CF occupiers. No shots were fired, and no force was used from Jan. 4 through Jan. 26, 2016, when LaVoy Finicum was shot and killed (the circumstances of which are still unclear).

LaVoy Finicum disabling a security camera at the Malheur National Wildlife Refuge during the occupation. Photo by Rob Kerr/AFP/Getty Images.

The Native American protesters, on the other hand, endured repeated assaults from public and private police forces as they pursued legal action.

While some members of the tribes tried to settle the dispute in court, others attempted to stand their ground at the actual site where the company behind the pipeline, Energy Transfer Partners, continued demolition and construction despite the requests from several federal organizations to stop. Several sacred sites were destroyed in the process.

North Dakota state authorities stripped the tribes of water and other emergency relief aids. On numerous occasions, tribal members were pepper-sprayed and threatened with assault by private security armed with attack dogs. Horses were killed, people were injured and shot with rubber bullets, and hundreds were arrested — including several journalists, one of whom is facing felony charges and up to 45 years in prison.

Photo by Robyn Beck/AFP/Getty Images.

C4CF was in direct conflict with the government. The Standing Rock Sioux, a sovereign nation, was fighting a private corporation and the public authorities who took its side.

Whether one agrees with the Bundy clan or not, there is certainly an established history of people battling government tyranny. And whether they win or lose, the consequences tend to be significant.

The situation in North Dakota, however, is a harrowing example of special interests taking precedence, where state authorities are used as the enforcers of a private company against the people.

If that scares you, well, it should. A group of armed rebels rising up against the state is very different from marginalized people trying to stop a for-profit company from further hurting them.

Photo by Robyn Beck/AFP/Getty Images.

The Native Americans took a stand when diplomacy failed and were bullied just as they've been throughout history. But the white guys who aimed guns at the government walked away scot-free.

In his testimony, Bundy invoked some familiar rhetoric. "It’s for my children, grandchildren," he said. "Everything comes from the Earth, and if [the government] can get control of the resources, they can get control of the people."

That's not so different from the language Native Americans have used time and time again to assert and defend their ancestral homes.

Native Americans protesting the Bundy militants. Photo by Matt Mills McKnight/Getty Images.

Whatever claims might be valid in their grievances, Bundy and his fellow Malheur mutineers still enjoy the perks of white privilege.

Meanwhile, Native Americans continue to suffer, fighting the exact same fight that they've been fighting for hundreds of years against a system that still won't bestow the same freedoms on them.

That's not the same at all.

Image by 5540867 from Pixabay

Figuring out what to do for a mom on Mother's Day can be a tricky thing. There's the standard flowers or candy, of course, and taking her out to a nice brunch is a fairly universal winner. But what do moms really want?

Speaking from experience—my kids range from age 12 to 20—a lot depends on the stage of motherhood. What I wanted when my kids were little is different than what I want now, and I'm sure when my kids are grown and gone I'll want something different again.

We asked our readers to share what they want for Mother's Day, and while the answers were varied, there were some common themes that emerged.

Moms of young kids want a break.

When your kids are little, motherhood is relentless. Precious and adorable, yes. Wonderful and rewarding, absolutely. But it's a LOT. And it's a lot all the fricking time.

Most moms I know would love the gift of alone time, either away at a hotel or Airbnb or in their own home with no one else around. Time alone is a priceless commodity at this stage, especially if it comes with someone else taking care of cleaning, making sure the kids are fed and safe and occupied, doing the laundry, etc.

This is especially true after more than a year of pandemic living, where we moms have spent more time than usual at home with our offspring. While in some ways that's been great, again, it's a lot.

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"I love being a nurse because I have the honor of connecting with my patients during some of their best and some of their worst days and making a difference in their lives is among the most rewarding things that I can do in my own life" - Tenesia Richards, RN

From ushering new life into the world to holding the hand of a patient as they take their last breath, nurses are everyday heroes that deserve our respect and appreciation.

To give back to this community that is always giving so selflessly to others, CeraVe® put out a call to nurses to share their stories for a chance to be featured in Heroes Behind the Masks, a digital content series shining a light on nurses who go above and beyond to provide safe and quality care to patients and their communities.

First up: Tenesia Richards, a labor and delivery nurse working in New York City who, in addition to her regular job, started a community outreach program in a homeless shelter that houses expectant mothers for up to one year postpartum.

Tenesia | Heroes Behind the Masks presented by CeraVe www.youtube.com

Upon learning at a conference that black mothers in the U.S. die at three to four times the rate of white mothers, one of the widest of all racial disparities in women's health, Richards decided to take further action to help her community. She, along with a handful of fellow nurses, volunteered to provide antepartum, childbirth and postpartum education to the women living at the shelter. Additionally, they looked for other ways to boost the spirits of the residents, like throwing baby showers and bringing in guest speakers. When COVID-19 hit and in-person gatherings were no longer possible, Richards and her team found creative workarounds and created holiday care packages for the mothers instead.

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