The Lumad are indigenous people in the southern Mindanao region of the Philippines. The term Lumad is short for Katawhang Lumad (Literally: “indigenous people”), a description officially adopted by delegates of the Lumad Mindanao Peoples Federation founding assembly on June 26, 1986. This grew out of a political awakening among tribes during the martial law regime of President Marcos and reflects the collective identify of 18 Lumad ethnic groups. The assembly’s main objectives was to achieve self-determination and governance for their member-tribes within their ancestral domain in accordance with their culture and customary laws.
The Lumad have a traditional ancestral concept of land ownership which is communal private property. Community members have the right utilize any piece of unoccupied land within the communal territory. Lumad ancestral lands include rain forests, hunting grounds, cultivated and uncultivated land and valuable mineral resources (copper, nickel, gold, chromite, coal, gas, cement) below the land.
The Tax Reform Bill Opens the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge for Oil and Gas Drilling, Putting Alaskan Natives at Further Risk of Climate Disaster and Harms The Natural Resources They Depend On
Washington D.C. -Today the Republican House and Senate passed the Republican Tax Reform Bill, a bill that has seen unprecedented disapproval by American citizens. According to The Hill, “Public polling on the GOP’s tax overhaul indicates support hovering at less than 30 percent, which is even lower than the favorability toward ObamaCare when Democrats passed it in 2010”. In addition, every democrat from both chambers opposed the bill.
The primary goal of the bill is to cut taxes, but the bill will also repeal the Affordable Care Act’s individual mandate and will open the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge (ANWR) in Northern Alaska for oil and gas drilling.
Yesterday, December 14, 2017, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers granted permits to Bayou Bridge, LLC, a subsidiary of Energy Transfer Partners, to construct a 162.5-mile crude oil pipeline from Lake Charles to St. James, Louisiana. The Army Corps of Engineers refused to conduct a full Environmental Impact Statement for the project, despite pleas for such a study from communities directly impacted by the pipeline.
Cherri Foytlin, Bold Louisiana said: “To be honest, my hopes were never with the state and federal agencies who have consistently proven their lack of vision and scarcity of protection for the people and waters of this great state. The idea that this company, Energy Transfer Partners, who has destroyed land and water all over the United States, who carry the designation of “worst spill record,” who has created and maintained space for human rights abuses upon peaceful people – that they would be allowed to endanger over 700 of our waterways for their own profit is not only inconceivable, but proof of a moral bankruptcy within our systems of environmental protections. Yet, this is where we are. And while I am saddened by the news, I am equally sure that we will stand together as the mothers, fathers, sisters, and brothers, to peacefully endeavor to right the wrong of these misguided and foolish permittings.”
Native nations, and Indigenous communities and organizations have used social media and internet-based communications as a means to highlight our struggles. Imagine the months at Standing Rock without live feeds or social media. The power of the world’s Indigenous Peoples coming together was made possible, in large part, by equal access to the internet. This decision could potentially harm our ability to organize as we depend on various websites to mobilize and to share our stories from the front lines. What’s more is that grassroots organizations often operate on small budgets. If fees become mandatory for the use of certain websites, grassroots organizations may struggle even more to operate. Our effort to build a sustainable and just society extends to all aspects of the commons, which includes the internet. We will stay committed to supporting the battle for net neutrality and digital civil rights.
Washington, DC — Leaders from the Gwich’in Nation and Inupiaq Tribe traveled from northern Alaska and the Yukon Territory in Canada today to lead a pray in against the tax bill and urge Congress to drop drilling in the Arctic from the bill. Senator Elizabeth Warren, Senator Jeff Merkley, Senator Mark Udall, and Representative Alan Lowenthal all came out to support and joined the call to stop Arctic drilling.
The Gwich’in Nation of Alaska and Canada have always and will continue to subsist on the Porcupine Caribou herd, whose calving grounds are in the coastal plain of the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge. The place is vital for the survival of the Gwich’in and Inupiaq people. Today marked the 57th anniversary of the Refuge.
Salt Lake City, UT – On Monday, December 1st, during a brief visit to Utah, President Trump announced plans to shrink the Bears Ears and the Grand Staircase Escalante National Monuments in Utah. This is the largest removal of federal land protection in the nation’s history. In 2016, President Obama designated the Bears Ears region as a national monument, after five local tribes led a decade long campaigns to ensure the protection of these ancestral lands.
Shortly after Trump’s announcement, an inter-tribal coalition, comprised of the Ute Mountain Tribe, the Ute Indian Tribe, the Navajo Nation, the Hopi and the Zuni, filed the first lawsuit against the executive order on the basis that President Trump does not have the legal authority to remove the national monument protections.
Within the Bears Ears National Monument there are over 100,000 sacred sites and this region continues to provide cultural knowledge and value to the surrounding tribes. Indigenous Peoples still need these lands for ceremony, to harvest plants medicines, and to ensure that their traditions thrive. Secretary Ryan Zinke, Senator Orrin Hatch, and President Trump did not meet with tribal representatives to hear their arguments for maintaining the national monument, nor did they receive consent from these tribes to remove the protections. This is a direct violation of the nation to nation relationship that the federal government should maintain with sovereign tribal nations.
Bemidji, MN – Before dawn on Saturday morning, December 2nd, the U.S. Senate passed a monumental tax overhaul with no Democratic support that overwhelmingly benefits corporations and the top 1%. The bill, written by a small panel of Republicans, behind closed doors was rushed to a vote, bypassing regular order that would have included hearings and committee meetings with both parties participating. In fact, the bill has ignited an outcry from Democrats, calling this process of the bill, “Washington at it’s worst”.
While the focus of criticism is centered on how the bill will not benefit a majority of taxpayers in the long term, there are immediate and potentially dire impacts within this bill for Indigenous Peoples that is being overlooked in the media. Two provisions inserted by Sen. Lisa Murkowski (R-Alaska) direct Sec. Zinke to approve at least two lease sales for drilling. Each would consist of no fewer than 400,000 acres and 2,000 acres (of the 800,000 total acres), known as 1002 Area, set aside for wells and support facilities within ANWR’s 1.5 million-acre coastal plain.
It is time to stop thinking we must protect nature and recognize that as much as every other life form on Earth, we are nature. We cannot separate ourselves from the water we drink, the food we eat or the air we breathe any more than we can care for just a single leaf on a tree. And yet, human law almost everywhere defines “nature” as property to be owned, commodified and destroyed at will for human profit. Most of the destruction of the Earth is sanctioned by law—from blowing the tops of mountains for coal; to fracturing the earth for oil and natural gas; to clear cutting the Amazon and displacing Indigenous communities. In so doing we are defying Natural Law that governs the planet’s life systems. Climate disruption is the direct result of human activities pushing beyond the limits of Natural Law.
To avert the worst impacts of the climate crisis and move toward a planet in balance, we must challenge the idea that Earth’s living systems are property and change our legal frameworks to adhere to the natural laws of the Earth. Recognizing Rights of Nature means that human activities and development must not interfere with the ability of ecosystems to absorb their impacts, to regenerate their natural capacities, to thrive and evolve, and requires that those responsible for destruction, including corporate actors and governments be held fully accountable.
Lincoln, NE – Today, November 20, 2017, the Nebraska Public Service Commission (NPSC) announced their approval of the permit for the Keystone XL (KXL) Pipeline to cross through the state. Nebraska was one of the last strongholds in the fight to prevent KXL from being completed. This announcement comes just days after the KXL pipeline leaked 210,000 gallons of oil in South Dakota and after the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change COP23, where Indigenous Peoples from across the world have spent two weeks advocating to stop new oil development and to keep fossil fuels in the ground. In addition, today, November 20th, marks the anniversary of the night the US National Guard and North Dakota Law Enforcement used water cannons on peaceful protesters at Standing Rock in subzero temperatures to protect the interests of Energy Transfer Partners.
Even with this decision, TransCanada has an uphill battle moving forward. The NPSC rejected TransCanada’s preferred route, so TransCanada will have to go through a new planning process for new pumping stations, acquire new easements from landowners, and there’s an opportunity for pipeline fighters to demand a new environmental impact statement for the new route segments.
November 17, 2017, The United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change 23rd Session of the Conference of the Parties (COP 23) has come to an end. And while progress has been made on the UNFCCC traditional knowledge Platform for engagement of local communities and Indigenous Peoples, Indigenous Peoples’ rights are not fully recognized in the final platform document of COP 23. The burden of implementation falls on local communities and indigenous peoples.
The water protectors camp, called the Wakpa Waste Camp, continues to stand in protection of water that threatens the Cheyenne River Sioux tribe including continuing to stand against the Dakota Access pipeline, and against the proposed Keystone XL pipeline. If built, the Keystone XL pipeline would would carry Tar Sands crude from Alberta and come within less than 1-mile of the Cheyenne River Sioux tribe’s boundaries.
Last Real Indian’s editor Matt Remle recently spoke with veteran water protector Joye Braun about the Wakpa Waste camp and fight against the Keystone XL pipeline. For those who are unaware of the water protectors camp at Cheyenne River tell us more about the camp.
Energy East Project was a major concern for the safety of our waterways, fish, vegetation, animals plus our people who reside next to the Wolastoq (St. John river).
Please recognize this is a partial victory. We can celebrate our success here in the east coast although we need not overlook our Indigenous Sisters and Brothers in the west coast who must deal with the Kinder Morgan Pipeline that was authorized by the Trudeau government. Here in Wolastoq Homeland, we will continue to support the western Indigenous Nations as they resist the Kinder Morgan Pipeline.”
Dallas, TX — On Friday, September 8th, 2017, the #STOPETP coalition rallied at the headquarters of Energy Transfer Partners. The rally featured speakers who traveled from the Dakotas, Pennsylvania, Louisiana and other communities who are impacted by ETP’s pipelines. Following the rally, organizers of the event led a march to Kelcy Warren’s home, the CEO of Energy Transfer Partners. As the CEO of Energy Transfer Partners, Warren is responsible for the many violations committed in the construction and operation of his company’s pipelines. He and his company are also responsible for using illegal counter-terrorist tactics on Indigenous Peoples and their allies during the Standing Rock movement.
Despite unprecedented protest of the Dakota Access Pipeline (DAPL) and being charged for many violations during the construction of DAPL, Energy Transfer Partners continues to expand its operations across the United States. From North Dakota to Pennsylvania, from Ohio to Louisiana, from Michigan to Texas, ETP violates Indigenous sovereignty, human and environmental rights. “Enough is enough. Across the country, Energy Transfer Partners steals land, poisons air and water, and trashes the climate,” said Yolonda Blue Horse, Society of Native Nations. “But the buck stops here. We’ve come together today to say ‘Stop.’ Stop the violence, stop the pollution, #StopETP.”
Hurricane Harvey flooding refugees evacuate as rains persist – Photo Credit: Business Insider
The devastation of Hurricane Harvey is horrific and unprecedented, affecting millions of people in Texas and Louisiana. Estimates are now being tallied from the impacts of widespread flooding and this event will be the largest ever since Katrina.
Beyond the obvious devastation and what is not being talked about enough in the mainstream is the environmental damage from leaking petroleum refineries, chemical plants, and manufacturing facilities. As the storm moved in these plants began shutting down operations which included burning off noxious gases into the air and releasing cancer-causing pollutants that made their way into rising waters.
We are a growing coalition of communities and organizations that care deeply about our rights to clean water, clean air, a stable climate, and a democratic society. We believe that landowners and indigenous tribes have the right to determine what happens to their land. But Energy Transfer Partners (ETP), a giant oil company based in Texas, has been consistently violating those rights in their drive to build new oil and gas pipelines. And along the way, communities have suffered.
Listeners may recall photographs of Native American people on horses facing masses of law enforcement in riot gear and tanks near Standing Rock Sioux Reservation in North Dakota. The powerful images seemed to symbolize the fight of indigenous communities and others against a pipeline carrying fracked oil from the Bakken Fields some thousand miles into Illinois, crossing the Missouri River that serves as a life source for the Standing Rock and others in the region.
But fights have many fronts, some less visible than others. And as activists know, struggles don’t end when media lose interest. The No DAPL fight may not be in your news feed anymore. That doesn’t mean it’s over; far from it.
New Town, N.D. – This weekend, the Indigenous Environmental Network (IEN), Protectors of Water and Earth Rights (P.O.W.E.R.), grassroots activists and clergy from the Gulf Coast led a “toxic tour,” the Third Annual Healing Walk, and an educational seminar for community members in the heart of the Bakken Oil Formation. The two-day series of events aimed to increase awareness about the environmental impacts of pipeline toxins and pollution in local water resources. Participants say this information is critical for communities along the pipeline routes because the Bakken oil and gas field resources the Dakota Access and Bayou Bridge Pipelines and also leaks 275,000 tons of methane per year.
BISMARCK, N.D. –– Ft. Berthold Protectors of Water & Earth Rights (POWER) sued the U.S. Bureau of Land Management on July 10 over the agency’s decision to ignore parts of a rule designed to reduce the waste of natural gas resources belonging to tribal government and mineral rights owners on allotment land. The Methane Waste Prevention Rule went into effect in January 2017. However, in June, at the urging of industry groups, Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke stayed provisions of the rule, preventing its full implementation for at least six months. Ft. Berthold POWER is challenging the stay as part of a coalition of community and environmental groups represented in court by Earthjustice. “This is the third time that the industry has influenced the new administration to force the repeal of this much-needed regulation that protects our resources and air quality,” said Mandan Hidatsa & Arikara Nation member Lisa DeVille, the president of Ft. Berthold POWER, a local affiliate of the grassroots statewide Dakota Resource Council.
From May 26-28, 2017, a gathering was held in Xapuri, in the state of Acre, Brazil, around “the effects of environmental and climate policies on traditional peoples.” In addition to the publication of the Xapuri Declaration, videos were disseminated with statements from indigenous leaders, seringueiros (rubber tappers) and other participants at the event. Since then, many of those leaders have been pressured and threatened by the „owners of power in Acre“.