Indigenous Resistance ~ KXL/Tar Sands
The content on this page contains statements, and declarations that Indigenous Communities, Organizations, and Tribal Councils, have used to publicly state their stance on the Keystone XL Pipeline, Tar Sands extraction, and the multitude of destructive consequences that exploration, extraction, and use of fossil fuels are now and in the future going to have on Mother Earth and Her Children.
Mother Earth Accord and the KXL
Tribal Government Chairs and Presidents, Traditional Treaty Councils, and US property owners, with First Nation Chiefs of Canada, impacted by TransCanada’s proposed Keystone XL tar sands pipeline and tar sands development present at the Rosebud Sioux Tribe Emergency Summit, September 15-16, 2011, on the protection of Mother Earth and Treaty Territories:
Recognizing that TransCanada’s proposed Keystone XL pipeline would stretch 1,980 miles, from Hardisty, Alberta, Canada to Nederland, Texas, carrying up to 900,000 barrels per day of tar sands crude oil, which would drive additional tar sands production;
Recognizing the existing resolutions and letters in opposition to the Keystone XL pipeline;
Guided by the principles of traditional indigenous knowledge, spiritual values, and respectful use of the land;
Affirming our responsibility to protect and preserve for our descendants, the inherent sovereign rights of our Indigenous Nations, the rights of property owners, and all inherent human rights;
Affirming our Indigenous view that the Earth is our true mother, our grandmother who gives birth to us and maintains all life;
Recognizing that the tar sands in northern Alberta, Canada is one of the largest remaining deposits of unconventional oil in the world, containing approximately 2 trillion barrels, and there are plans for a massive expansion of development that would ultimately destroy an area larger than the state of Florida;
Recognizing that tar sand development has devastating impacts to Mother Earth and her inhabitants and perpetuates the crippling addiction to oil of the United States and Canada;
Recalling in September 2010, the Assembly of First Nations of Canada called on the United States government to take into account the environmental impacts of tar sands production on First Nations in its energy policy, citing the high rates of cancer in the downstream Fort Chipewyan community, which prominent scientists say are potentially linked to petroleum products;
Recognizing the findings published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences that tar sands production releases 13 elements considered priority pollutants under the U.S. Clean Water Act, including lead, mercury, and arsenic into the Athabasca River in northern Alberta, which flows 3,000 miles downstream to the Arctic Ocean;Recognizing that tar sands production produces three times the greenhouse gas emissions of conventional oil and NASA climate scientist James Hansen has said that if the tar sands are fully developed, it will be “essentially game over” for the climate;
Recognizing that Canada’s greenhouse gas emissions from tar sands development have more than doubled since 1990, which is the main reason Canada is failing to meet its greenhouse gas emissions reduction targets under the Kyoto Protocol;
Concerned that Indigenous people are most vulnerable to the social, cultural, spiritual, and environmental impacts of climate change;
Recognizing that Exxon-Imperial and ConocoPhillips Heavy Haul shipments are attempting to haul more than 200 oversized loads of heavy oil machinery from the Port of Lewiston, Idaho along Highway 12 into Montana, then north to the tar sands project in Alberta, Canada;
Concerned that tar sands crude oil is more toxic, corrosive, and abrasive than conventional crude oil and poses additional pipeline safety risks that have not been fully assessed by the U.S. Department of State in its final Environmental Impact Statement for the Keystone XL pipeline, issued August 26, 2011;
Recalling that TransCanada’s year-old Keystone pipeline, from Manitoba, Canada to Patoka, Illinois and Cushing Oklahoma, has had 14 spills in the U.S. portion since it started operation in June 2010, and was temporarily shut down by regulators in late May, 2011;
Recognizing TransCanada’s extremely poor safety record for the Keystone pipeline, it is probable that the Keystone XL pipeline will have frequent spills because it will have similar design specifications;
Concerned that oil spills from the Keystone XL pipeline would destroy live-sustaining water resources, including the Ogallala Aquifer, which provides drinking water for millions of people and farmland irrigation throughout the Midwestern United States;
Concerned that construction of the Keystone XL pipeline will impact sacred sites and ancestral burial grounds, and treaty rights throughout traditional territories, without adequate consultation on these impacts;
Concerned that the Keystone XL pipeline would increase air pollution in the communities surrounding the refineries that the pipeline would service where people of color, Indigenous peoples, and poor people are already experiencing high rates of cancer and respiratory illness;
Recalling that TransCanada’s permit application to the Canadian government for the Keystone XL pipeline said it will increase oil prices in the United States by $4 billion per year;
Acknowledging that the Keystone XL pipeline is not designed to provide the United States with energy security and that industry documents indicate Gulf Coast refineries operate in a free trade zone and plan to refine tar sands oil into petroleum products that are intended for export overseas;
Therefore, we are united on this Mother Earth Accord, which is effective immediately, that it be resolved as follows:
- We support and encourage a moratorium on tar sands development;
- We insist on full consultation under the principles of “free, prior and informed consent,” from the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples both in the United States and Canada;We urge regional authorities to halt the Exxon-Imperial and ConocoPhillips Heavy Haul shipments of tar sands equipment through the United States and Canada;
- We urge the United States and Canada to reduce their reliance on oil, including tar sands, and invest in the research and development of cleaner, safer forms of sustainable energy and transportation solutions, including smart growth, fuel efficiency, next-generation biofuels and electric vehicles powered by solar and wind energy.
- We strongly believe that the proposed Keystone XL tar sands pipeline is not in the national interest of the United States or Canada; and
- We urge President Obama and Secretary of State Kerry to reject the Presidential Permit for the Keystone XL pipeline.
Tribal governments in the U.S. and First Nations in Canada are invited to sign-on. There will also be a category for endorsing and signing on to the Accord by Traditional Societies; Native and non-Native Organizations and Individuals.
The contacts for U.S. sign-ons:
Marty Cobenais, Keystone XL Pipeline, Organizer – Tel: (218) 760-0284 – Email:firstname.lastname@example.org or
Kandi Mosset, Native Energy & Climate Program Organizer – Tel: (701) 214-1389 – Email: email@example.com
For Canadian sign-ons contact:
Barret Lenoir or Daniel T’seleie at the Dene National Office (867) 873-4081
Mother Earth Accord Indigenous Peoples Endorsements
- Alberta AFN Regional Chief George Stanley
- Black Hills Sioux Nation Treaty Council, Pine Ridge Agency, SD
- Member Reservations:
- Cheyenne River
- Crow Creek
- Fort Peck
- Lower Brule
- Pine Ridge
- Standing Rock
- Member Reservations:
Native and Non-Native Group Endorsements:
- Indigenous Environmental Network
- Intertribal Council on Utility Policy
- Ya Ne Dah Ah School – Chickaloon Village Traditional Council
- Green Party Canada – Elizabeth May, O.C., M.P.
- Asian Pacific Environmental Network
- Family Farm Defenders
- Farmworker Association of Florida
- Global Justice Ecology Project
- Global Alliance Incinerator Alternatives
- Population and Development Program
- Grassroots Global Justice Alliance
- National Family Farm Coalition
- Northwest Atlantic Marine Alliance
- La Via Campesina – International Peasant Movement
- LIVE REAL – an initiative of the Food Project
- Grassroots International
- OWE AKU – International Justice Projects
- International Indian Treaty Council
- United Confederation of Taino People
- Great Plains Tribal Chairman’s Association
- Dene National Office – Assembly of First Nations (NWT)
International Treaty to Protect the Sacred from Tar Sands Projects
Signed on January 25th 2013
The representatives from sovereign Indigenous Nations, tribes, and governments, participating in the Gathering to Protect the Sacred on January 23 – 25, 2013, on the 150 year anniversary of the Treaty Between the Pawnee and Yankton Sioux, have gathered on the Ihanktonwan homelands, and have resolved by our free, prior, and informed consent to enter into a treaty to be forever respected and protected. We agreed upon the following articles:
The undersigned Indigenous Peoples have inhabited and governed our respective territories according to our laws and traditions since time immemorial.
As sovereign nations, we have entered into bi-lateral and multi-lateral agreements with other nations including the Treaty Between the Pawnee and Yankton Sioux, Mother Earth Accord, the Spiritual Leaders Declaration, the Agreement to Unite to use 16 Guiding Principles, and the Black Hills Sioux Nation Treaty Council Declaration, and all the inter-tribal treaties in the Western hemisphere, among others, which promise peace, friendship, and mutual opposition to tar sands projects and energy development that threaten the lands, the waters, the air, our sacred sites, and our ways of life, and acknowledge other Indigenous Peoples such as the Yinka Dene, the People of the Earth’ who have exercised their lawful authority to ban tar sands projects from their territories through Indigenous legal instruments such as the Save the Fraser Declaration and the Coastal First Nations Declaration.
We act with inherent, lawful, and sovereign authority over our lands, waters, and air, as recognized by Article 32 of the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples which provides:
States shall consult and cooperate in good faith with the indigenous peoples concerned through their own representative institutions in order to obtain their free and informed consent prior to the approval of any project affecting their lands or territories and other resources, particularly in connection with the development, utilization or exploitation of mineral, water or other resources.
We mutually agree that tar sands projects present unacceptable risks to the soil, the waters, the air, sacred sites, and our ways of life including:
- The destruction of rivers, lakes, boreal forests, homelands and health of the Cree, Dene, and Métis peoples in the Northern Alberta tar sands region and downstream Dene communities of Northwest Territories
- The threat of pipeline and tanker oil spills into major river systems, aquifers and water bodies such as the Salish Sea, the North Pacific coast, and the Ogallala Aquifer.
- The negative cumulative health and ecological impacts of tar sands projects on Indigenous Communities.
- The irreparable harm to irreplaceable cultural resources, burial grounds, sacred and historic places, natural resources, and environmental resources of the central plains region which is the aboriginal homelands of many Indigenous Nations.
- Greenhouse gas pollution that could lock the planet onto a path of catastrophic climate change.
We affirm that our laws define our solemn duty and responsibility to our ancestors, to ourselves, and to future generations, to protect the lands and waters of our homelands and we agree to mutually and collectively oppose tar sands projects which would impact our territories, including but not limited to the TransCanada Keystone XL pipeline, the Enbridge Northern Gateway, Enbridge lines nine (9) and sixty-seven (67), or the Kinder Morgan Trans Mountain pipeline and tanker projects.
We agree to mutually and collectively, as sovereign nations, call upon the Canadian and United States governments to respect our decision to reject tar sands projects that impact our sacred sites and homelands; to call upon the Canadian and United States governments to immediately halt and deny approval for pending tar sands projects because they threaten the soil, water, air, sacred sites, and our ways of life; and, confirm that any such approval would violate our ancestral laws, rights and responsibilities.
We agree to the mutual, collective, and lawful enforcement of our responsibilities to protect our lands, waters, and air by all means necessary, and if called on to do so, we will exercise our peace and friendship by lawfully defending one another’s lands, waters, air, and sacred sites from the threat of tar sands projects, provided that each signatory Indigenous Nation reserves and does not cede their rights to act independently as the tribal governments see fit to protect their respective tribal interests, further provided that each signatory Indigenous Nation reserves its inherent sovereign right to take whatever governmental action and strategy that its governing body sees fit to best protect and advance tribal interests affected by the pipeline project consistent with the agreements made herein and subject to the laws and available resources of each respective nation.
This Treaty of mutual defense and support is made on the occasion of the 150 year anniversary of the Treaty Between the Pawnee and Yankton Sioux concluded between the Pawnee Nation and the Ihanktonwan Oyate/Yankton Sioux Tribe on January 23rd, 1863, and the parties thereto hereby commemorate the signing of that historic treaty that has endured without violation for 150 years.
This Treaty goes into effect once ratified by the governing bodies of the signatory nations.
IN WITNESS WHEREOF, the undersigned dually authorized representatives, after having deposited their full powers found to be in due and proper form, sign this treaty on behalf of their respective governments, on the date appearing opposite their signatures.
Moccasins on the Ground
Moccasins on the Ground to Protect Sacred Water
by Debra White Plume
Lakota know we love Unci Maka. All of Unci Maka. Our ancestors were free, to follow the Star Nation Path (the Good Red Road), to roam, to hunt, to be happy, to have sacred water. Then one day, FAT TAKER came thru camp, and stole the fat that many women prepared to get their lodges through the harsh prairie winters. From then on, it was the beginning of a war our ancestors waged in defense of their children, their babies, their, and our, sacred path of life. The gunfire may have ended at Wounded Knee in 1890 on that day when the 7th Calvary massacred unarmed women, children, old people, and men. But the war continues. America continues to violate international law, which is what a treaty is. Our ancestors made the 1851 and 1868 Ft Laramie Treaty with the United States to retain territory and make peace. America violated the Treaty Law when Fat Taker found gold, and they have been violating it ever since. America recently admitted their guilt in being a Fat Taker, through the unilateral (because no one bothered to talk with Traditional government about this lawsuit) approval of the Cobell Settlement, which awarded a few billion to the many many Red Nations peoples who America stole money from in the amount of $134 billion dollars worth of what American calls “natural resources”. These were taken off Unci Maka to make a profit for a few Fat Takers, leaving destruction and contamination behind that our Red Nations have to live and die with.
Our Treaty boundaries encompass a large part of the Great Plains. This is our ancestral territory that we retained through Treaty. We, to this day, love this land, and feel that we need to take care of it. At one point in time, America called, after illegal takings of other unceded territory, the remaining portions this land base “the Great Sioux Reservation”. Nonetheless, we are our own sovereign Nation!
Therein lies some of the confusion as to the understanding of the American people when we speak of “reservations”. The place where I live now is the Pine Ridge Indian Reservation in southwestern South Dakota. Officially, in the records of the American government’s Interior Department (where the national parks, animals, and plants are managed, is also where the Indians and our lands are “managed”) Pine Ridge Reservation is acknowledged as Prisoner of War Camp 344. In the past days, our people were not under the Interior Department, we were classified under the War Department. American Indians (sic) are the only people in this big land who have ANOTHER number, beyond the social security number of all Americans. We have our “Indian” number, our Prisoner of War number. Mine begins with 344. So America knows I dwell within Prisoner of War Camp 344. Think about that for awhile.
In our work to protect Treaty Territory, Human Rights, Treaty Rights, we make allies all over the world to educate about our situation in POW Camp #344, our Treaties, and our obligation and privilege to protect lands and waters for our coming generations. We have many American people allies. Sometimes they make the human error of going by information they find about us, and utilize American records, and America refers to some of our land base as the “Great Sioux Reservation” which was a collective land base for our Nations to live on together, vs the individual ‘reservation’ land-bases that remain after American carved out all our Treaty Territory that they wanted for the Fat. These individual ‘reservations’ are where the distinct Bands (I am of the Oglala Band) reside today.
There is a tar sands oil pipeline, the Keystone XL pipeline, planned by TransCanada, Inc. that will pierce through our Treaty Territory, or, if you go by American records, parts of the “Great Sioux Reservation”. It will cross hundreds of rivers, streams, creeks, and it will be over our Ogllala Aquifer, which spans 8 states from South Dakota to Texas, and it will cross our piped-in drinking water as well. This aquifer is also our source of drinking water for portions of the Pine Ridge Reservation, the Cheyenne River Eagle Butte Reservation, and Rosebud Reservation, which by the way, also depend on the piped-in drinking water. We must protect our drinking water.
The American process of citizen involvement is designed to make people feel they have a voice. However, as the process applies to “American Indians”, the process is flawed to benefit the United States and any corporations who want to do business on our lands. America claims their process gives us voice to express our concerns and needs and RIGHTS. We know this is to be fallacy, a myth, a disguise for Fat Taker to continue to get their way.
TransCanada has a website that displays our Moccasins on the Ground Activist Training poster. TC claims they have utilized this American process to “work with” the tribes, but it is just more of the manipulation of Fat Taker to get what they want. Say our “tribe” meets with the American entities of EPA, BLM, etc. and we voice “NO, don’t come through here.” The entities will say, but we have the right to come through there, it does not violate any law. That is not a consultation, it is the federal government TELLING us what they will do. Our Red Nations have all opposed the KXL pipeline and called upon Lakota to defend the water.
TransCanada is trying to make a big deal out of a mistaken American identification of who our people are and what are Territories consist of.
TransCanada is trying to explain away how their tar sands KXL pipeline application process for a permit to enter the big land is all above board and honest and good. Ask the non-Indian American ranchers and farmers from Montana to Texas how above board TC and America have behaved. They lost their lands to eminent domain to TC. They are the new Indians of today, the federal government is helping Fat Taker to take their lands now, against their wishes.
Folks have to take caution, and read between the lines of what these Fat Taker corporations say, as they manipulate the English language and play with words to make themselves look like they are not Fat Taker, that they are honest and good. Do not be deceived by Fat Taker. Stand with us to stop the Keystone XL pipeline and shut down tar sands oil mine. Stand with us now while there is still time to stop them. Take courage! We do have the right to protect our sacred water for our children and grandchildren. It is their water. We must be prepared to protect that which is for our generations.
We are now hosting a three day training session to learn from each other how to protect our sacred water using non violent direct action, which, by the way, is a right of all citizens in this big land. We will make allies, learn new skills, share existing effective skills that will make us stronger in our collective action of putting our Moccasins on the Ground to protect our sacred water. Hecetuwe. (It is so so.)
Debra White Plume
Owe Aku, Bring Back the Way
IEN Responds to Draft Keystone XL Supplemental EIS
Statement from the Indigenous Environmental Network
Initial Response to the U.S. Department of State Keystone XL Pipeline Draft Supplemental EIS 2013
March 6, 2013
Last Friday, March 1st, in an unexpected move, President Obama’s U.S. Department of State released its draft Supplemental Environmental Impact Statement (SEIS) for the proposed Keystone XL pipeline (this is the proposed pipeline section from the Montana/Canada border to southern Nebraska, Steele City). The report defies common sense when the U.S. Department of State says “the proposed Project is unlikely to have a substantial impact on the rate of development in the oil sands.” The report understates many of the risks the tar sands pipeline poses not only to the ecosystem, but to the human health of communities living at the source of the tar sands crude oil that will flow through the proposed TransCanada Keystone XL pipeline.
The Department of State is saying it is only a draft technical report and that they’re “not going to come out and make conclusions at this point until we engage with public and get some feedback.” Federal notification of the draft SEIS will be posted this week establishing only a 45-day public comment period.
The Indigenous Environmental Network (IEN) stands in support of the statement released last Friday by Chief Allan Adams, of the Athabasca Chipewyan First Nation (ACFN), Fort Chipewyan, Alberta, Canada, whose people live downstream from the source of the toxic crude oil that will flow through this Keystone XL pipeline. Chief Adams said of the draft SEIS:
“I must stress my extreme disappointment with this report. The fact that the Keystone XL pipeline is deemed as non-consequential simply paves the way for its approval and is directly connected to the unabated expansion of Tar Sands in my peoples’ traditional lands….and the Keystone is a vital pipeline for expansion. Expansion of the tar sands means a death sentence for our way for life, destruction of eco-systems vital to the continuation of our inherent treaty rights and massive contributions to catastrophic global climate change, a fate we all share.”
There is substantial documentation of the devastation of the environment, ecosystem, water, air, and more recently the health of the Native people living in the national sacrifice zone of the tar sands. Evidence of rare cancers linked to petroleum contamination is on the increase. The Alberta tar sands are far away, in another country, but the Obama administration could be making a decision that can directly affect the health and future of the Dene, Cree and Metis’ First Nations people. The U.S. Department of State addresses human rights issues worldwide, however, in this report; it completely ignores its responsibility to apply U.S. policy on environmental justice and its commitment to address human rights.
The Department of State, following its pattern in previous assessments on the pipeline has not assessed adequate environmental, social, cultural impact from the framework of an environmental justice analysis. The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and the U.S. Council on Environmental Quality (CEQ) defines environmental justice as the “fair treatment and meaningful involvement of all people regardless of race, color, national origin, or income with respect to the development, implementation, and enforcement of environmental laws, regulations and policies. Fair treatment means that no group of people, including racial, ethnic, or socio-economic groups should bear a disproportionate share of the negative environmental consequences resulting from industrial, municipal, and commercial operations or the execution of federal, state, local, and tribal programs and policies.”
Related to the proposed Keystone XL pipeline, bringing the issue of human rights and environmental injustice to the attention of President Obama is not new. Back in 2011, when President Obama and the Department of State were first considering approval of the TransCanada Keystone XL pipeline, George Poitras, the former Chief of Mikisew Cree First Nation, from Fort Chipewyan, Alberta, Canada, sent a heartfelt message to Obama. He said:
“Your approval President Obama, of the Keystone XL Pipeline, will only compound an already dismal situation for our people who have the most at stake from this out-of-control development. Your approval will mean, with certainty that we will continue to see our waters poisoned, our lands contaminated, our skies polluted, our fish deformed, and our people die unnecessarily. Your approval will guarantee the continued daily repeated infringements on our constitutionally protected treaty rights to hunt, fish, and trap.”
As we see here in the report, environmental racism also operates in the U.S. international energy agreement it has with Canada. In Canada, the roots are the same with the same colonial system of domination, the trampling of Aboriginal treaty rights, the same economic system characterized by racial oppression, economic exploitation and devaluing human life, and the environment and nature.
This is environmental racism rearing its ugly head once again. Even though there has been some progress since the mid-1990 with America addressing environmental injustice, the draft SEIS smacks of racism at its worst. The report doesn’t address the human rights violations of the Dene, Cree and Métis that live downstream and other First Nations and local communities living in the regional area of Alberta’s tar sands industrial complex.
Section 1.7, ENVIRONMENTAL REVIEW OF THE CANADIAN PORTION OF THE KEYSTONE XL PROJECT, states in part:
“On March 11, 2010, the NEB issued its Reasons for Decision granting Keystone’s application. The NEB’s Reasons for Decision included an Environmental Screening Report (ESR) that was prepared to meet the requirements of Canadian Environmental Assessment Act for the Canadian portion of the proposed Keystone XL Project. The ESR concluded that implementation of the proposed Keystone XL Project in Canada would not likely result in significant adverse environmental effects with incorporation of Keystone’s proposed measures to avoid or minimize impacts and with Keystone’s acceptance of the NEB’s regulatory requirements and recommended conditions attached to the ESR.”
This assessment above comes from government and its agencies that continue to, pass legislation to avoid accountability for the elevated emissions and devastating health effects suffered by communities downstream of the tar sands. These are also the same governmental people who have continually denounced hundreds of scientists, armed with irrefutable evidence, that the tar sands are the most carbon intensive project on the planet and will rapidly accelerate global climate change beyond the tipping point if not stopped.
IEN rejects the conclusion of this section of the draft SEIS on the grounds that the Canadian government has misrepresented the facts. We will address this issue in our comments to be submitted during the 45-day comment period.
The numerous testimonies and statements submitted by Canadian First Nations and U.S. federally recognized Tribes, tribal grassroots and Native organizations on these issues must be referenced and taken into full consideration in the final EIS.
The lack of comprehensive consultation with Native Nations and lack of meaningful participation with indigenous traditional societies, spiritual leaders and tribal grassroots on the protection of sacred areas, and cultural and historical resources is an environmental justice and treaty right issue and is unacceptable.
Appendix E, Record of Consultation of Indian Tribes and Nations: Appendix E of this Draft SEIS the “Record of Consultation” is a table with a list of the names of the Indian Tribes and Nations who were consulted, along with columns labeled: Letters; Telephone; Emails; Faxes; and Meetings, with only dates within the respective columns and rows identified with the name of the Tribe and State. What this section, nor any other section in this Draft SEIS, does not provide, is the statements from these Indigenous and sovereign nations in opposition to the KXL and rejection of the expansion of the tar sands, of which the KXL will facilitate. http://keystonepipeline-xl.state.gov/documents/organization/205589.pdf
Protection of Indigenous Cultural Resources
Appendix F, Scoping Summary Report, Section 2.1.9 Cultural Resources
Number 1. Further consultation, including a tribal consultation plan, is needed and should be disclosed in the Supplemental EIS to address the presence of cultural sites and tribal members’ use of resources.
On January 25, 2013, a coalition of U.S. Native Nations, Canadian First Nations, traditional indigenous societies, spiritual leaders and tribal grassroots gathered and signed the International Treaty to Protect the Sacred from Tar Sands, including pipelines and tankers. In Article IV of this Unification Treaty, there is a bulleted item that reads:
“We mutually agree that tar sands projects present unacceptable risks to the soil, the waters, the air, sacred sites, and our ways of life including:
- The irreparable harm to irreplaceable cultural resources, burial grounds, sacred and historic places, natural resources, and environmental resources of the central plains region which is the aboriginal homelands of many Indigenous Nations.”
At this January 2013 gathering held in the Ihanktowan Nakota territories in the state of South Dakota, Dakota/Nakota/Lakota representatives spoke about the U.S. Department of State not complying with Section 106 of the U.S. National Historic Preservation Act (NHPA). Since the Department of State is the lead federal agency, they must consider all effects on cultural and historic properties in the KXL pipeline corridor before making their decision that would allow TransCanada to start digging the ground and waterways to lay pipe. During the years that IEN has been organizing on the KXL pipeline issue, talking to tribal leaders, tribal members and tribal cultural resources program staff, there have been consistency with issues of lack of capacity and not enough time allowed to, fully inventory the pipeline corridor. Along with this are concerns of failure to have full comprehensive consultation with the Tribes and meaningful participation of traditional societies, spiritual leaders, elders, and cultural knowledge keepers.
Any key objective of environmental justice methodology must evaluate cumulative disproportionate impacts to individuals, communities, and cultures not only through human health but also through natural resource quality, ecosystem health, socio-economic health and socio-cultural health. The cultural relationship between Indigenous peoples and our land is not only physical, but is also social, emotional, psychological and spiritual.
The KXL pipeline corridor throughout the prairielands of the U.S. was once all indigenous territories used for millennia by many indigenous tribes. Despite what the draft SEIS reports, it is the opinion of many tribal cultural experts that a large percent of the pipeline corridor remains unexamined (to the standards of tribal experts) and may potentially contain important and critical cultural resources that would be disturbed in the construction of the KXL pipeline. A full comprehensive survey of the corridor and a reasonable timeline for the Tribes and indigenous cultural experts to review and evaluate all inventories is vital.
IEN supports the Native Nations and its grassroots communities and the non-Native farmers and ranchers whose private lands that this proposed pipeline will cross, who have summarily rejected the pipeline crossing their lands. IEN collectively affirms the devastating consequences of the Canadian tar sands expansion, of which the KXL will accelerate.
“There comes a time when it boils down to personal responsibility. We either look at the whole big picture to see the truth or we continue to live in the many levels of denial for what the industry is doing with our support as inactive human beings. People need to take courage and take that stand that this fossil fuel industry and the tar sands oil mine is wrong and work to shut it down before it is too late. Letting that pipeline in is not only contributing to the continuation of the tar sands oil mine, destruction of sacred water and all of life, it is actually supporting the continuation of the tar sands oil mine while it risks our sacred water here because it WILL leak and spill and when it does, it cannot be cleaned up, the technology does not exist.” Debra White Plume, Oglala Lakota, Owe Aku, a Lakota group
In conclusion, the 45-day public comment period is not enough time for the people of the land, who will be directly affected by this proposed pipeline to prepare comment. The public comments must demand more time, and require public hearings in all states that the proposed pipeline will cross- even 90 days isn’t enough time.
We must remind President Obama of his eloquent words he spoke during his Inaugural Address and in his recent State of the Union address, about the need to take action to reverse global warming. Yes, there is a link to the Canadian tar sands industrial complex and climate change.
I recall another response last Friday concerning the release of this report, by my friend Stephen Kretzmann, Executive Director of Oil Change International, based in Washington, DC. He correctly stated:
“By absurdly concluding that the pipeline will not impact additional tar sands production, the Department of State is overlooking the fact that the pipeline is likely to trigger at least 450,000 barrels per day of additional tar sands production capacity. In addition, by dismissing emissions associated with petroleum coke produced by the diluted bitumen the pipeline will carry, the Department of State is underestimating the climate emissions of the pipeline by at least 13 percent. While State conducted a wide ranging discussion of petcoke emissions from refining tar sands crude they still dismissed the impacts these would have by making coal fired generation cheaper and dirtier globally. By dismissing petroleum coke, the Department of State is conveniently overlooking at least 5 coal plants worth of emissions. These are not rounding errors; they are huge holes that cause us to question the validity of Department of State’s analysis.”
President Obama should be bound by his words of concern about global warming and put his words into action and therefore reject the Keystone XL project. IEN, frontline communities, the First Nations from the Tar Sands Sacrifice Zone, all Native Nations and non-Native communities fighting the tar sands and its industrial complex of pipelines, tankers and polluting refineries, are standing with One Voice. We will continue to mobilize and organize calling on President Barrack Obama to reject this dangerous project and continue moving our nation toward energy efficiency and sustainable energy production.
Tom BK Goldtooth: Exec. Dir., firstname.lastname@example.org, (218)760-0442
Kandi Mossett: Native Energy and Climate, email@example.com, (701) 214-1389
Marty Cobenais: Pipeline Organizer, firstname.lastname@example.org, (218) 760-028
IEN Executive Director, Tom B.K. Goldtooth Responds to KXL Draft EIS
IEN Executive Director, Tom B.K. Goldtooth, Issues Statement in Response to
U.S. Department of State Keystone XL Pipeline Draft Supplemental EIS 2013
For Immediate Release
March 6, 2013
Note: This press release precedes and is the introductory statement from Tom BK Goldtooth, the Executive Director of the Indigenous Environmental Network. The link for the full statement can be found at the end of this release.
Bemidji, MN: On Friday, March 1st, in an unexpected move, President Obama’s U.S. Department of State released its draft Supplemental Environmental Impact Statement (SEIS) for the proposed Keystone XL pipeline section that will cross the U.S. and Canadian border in Montana and travel into Steele City, Nebraska.
First and foremost, the SEIS report defies common sense with the statement that reads; “the proposed Project is unlikely to have a substantial impact on the rate of development in the oil sands,” and gravely understates many of the risks the tar sands pipeline poses not only to the ecosystem, but to the human health of communities living at the source of the tar sands crude oil that will flow through the proposed TransCanada Keystone XL pipeline.
Although this is a draft and does, by law, require a 45-day comment period before the report is finalized and goes to the Department of State for a final decision, we contend that this is not enough time to consult with all stakeholders in and around the proposed route. And further state that following the Department of State’s pattern in previous assessments on the pipeline, has not adequately reported the environmental, social, and cultural impacts from the framework of an environmental justice analysis.
The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and the U.S. Council on Environmental Quality (CEQ) defines environmental justice as the “fair treatment and meaningful involvement of all people regardless of race, color, national origin, or income with respect to the development, implementation, and enforcement of environmental laws, regulations and policies. Fair treatment means that no group of people, including racial, ethnic, or socio-economic groups should bear a disproportionate share of the negative environmental consequences resulting from industrial, municipal, and commercial operations or the execution of federal, state, local, and tribal programs and policies.”
As is evident, in the SEIS, environmental racism is rearing its ugly head once again. These systems of colonial domination and the trampling of Aboriginal treaty rights, continues an identical economic system that, through these agreements, supports racial oppression, continues issues of economic disparity, and devaluation of human life through the exploitation of the environment and nature.
Given the substantial documentation proving the devastation of the environment, ecosystem, water, air, and more recently the health of the indigenous peoples living in the national sacrifice zone of the tar sands, the Obama administration could be making a decision that will directly affect the health and future of the Dene, Cree and Metis’ First Nations people. The U.S. Department of State addresses human rights issues worldwide, however, in this report; it completely ignores its responsibility to apply U.S. policy on environmental justice and its commitment to address these rights.
The lack of comprehensive consultation with Native Nations and lack of meaningful participation with indigenous traditional societies, spiritual leaders and tribal grassroots on the protection of sacred areas, and cultural and historical resources as an environmental justice and treaty rights issues is completely unacceptable.
Despite what the draft SEIS reports, it is the opinion of many tribal cultural experts that a large percent of the pipeline corridor remains unexamined (to the standards of tribal experts) and may potentially contain important and critical cultural resources that would be disturbed in the construction of the KXL pipeline. A full comprehensive survey of the corridor and a reasonable timeline for the Tribes and indigenous cultural experts to review and evaluate all inventories is vital.
IEN will continue to mobilize and organize calling once again with one voice, as we just did on February 17th, on President Barrack Obama to reject this dangerous project and continue moving our nation toward energy efficiency and sustainable energy production.
Read the full statement here: http://www.ienearth.org/ien-responds-to-draft-keystone-xl-supplemental-eis/
Tom B.K. Goldtooth, email@example.com, 218.760.0442
IEN - KXL Resistance
Indigenous Peoples’ Messages Highlighted at the Forward on Climate Rally and March
On February 17, 2013, an estimated 35,000 people gathered and braved the bitter temperatures, in Washington D.C., to join the Indigenous Environmental Network, the Sierra Club, 350.org, HipHop Caucus, and an estimated 160-plus environmental student groups from across Turtle Island, to overwhelmingly voice their opposition to the Keystone XL pipeline and the expansion of the Canadian Tar Sands.
The collective message of constructive support for the President was clearly evident in the rally’s title, “Forward on Climate,” which co-opted the president’s 2012 campaign slogan and carried over to the inclusion of messages brought by Indigenous Peoples from both the United States and Canada.
At other locations, there were thousands more at 20-plus solidarity rallies across the country, and more than one million online activists stood up and spoke out to tell President Obama that right now it’s time to move Forward on Climate.
Indigenous Peoples, whose sovereign territories the Keystone XL is slated to cross, spoke to the thousands of people at the rally of past environmental and devastating human health consequences, and what the inevitable outcome will be if the pipeline is approved:
“We the Ponca people are already dealing with environmental genocide directly from the effects of the Conoco Phillips refinery and other layered pollutants on our reservation. We now have added insult to injury with the burden of Keystone I to our homelands; with a pump station near what was our sacred Sundance grounds. Now the KXL is going to parallel directly our Trail of Tears from our ancestral homelands and bring death and destruction to not only where we are now but where we came from. Ponca’s are simply a microcosm of the larger more extreme death and destruction happening to our relatives around the Alberta tar sands. This gives us the impetus and heart to not only continue to bring to light what’s happening to us but to also join forces with all of our relatives from the tar sands in Alberta to the Gulf Coast. Contacts were made with people of all colors from all walks of life and we believe that President Obama’s legacy and our legacy are tied together.” - Casey Camp, Ponca, Oklahoma
“As a native person from South Dakota, the pipeline will run right through my backyard. It will impact the Ogallala aquifer, my traditional treaty homelands, and my northern relatives directly affected by the tar sands. I feel it is important that native people must stand together and support each other, nation to nation. We insist that our Crow blood brother, President Obama, deny the Keystone XL Pipeline.” – William Underbaggage, Oglala Lakota, Founder/Director Indigenous Nations Network
Other Indigenous representatives from our sister nations in Canada spoke clearly about the devastating effects from pipeline leaks and tar sands mining already polluting their lands and sickening their people:
“The Yinka Dene Alliance is opposed to irresponsible, environmental-damaging projects that put our communities, our water, our culture, our land, our fish, our animals, and most importantly, our plants, at risk. It puts at risk my neighbors to the east of me that live at the tar sands. The government doesn’t recognize these people, and these people have been dying of mysterious cancers. Their water is polluted. Their animals are sick. And Mother Earth is sick.” Canadian indigenous leader Chief Jacqueline Thomas of the Saik’uz First Nation
“If this pipeline goes through, your government will help in the raping and pillaging of the land of my ancestors, then all the companies will do is promise to give back what was never theirs in the first place.” -Crystal Lameman, Beaver Lake Cree, Canada.
And from the south, in the Gulf of Mexico region where the BP disaster devastated countless Indigenous communities, and where they are still suffering those effects, Cherri Foytlin, Cherokee/Dine, Environmental Justice Advocate Gulf of Mexico told reporters and others at the rally:
“The truth is that the wasteful, toxic, tar sand extraction method that is poisoning our relatives in Canada, does and will, end up poisoning our indigenous families in the Gulf of Mexico through the refining process. This sort of extreme extraction process, from beginning to end, is an international killer and polluter that we feel we have no choice but to shut down in order to provide a future to our children.”
After the rally, the march took the 35,000 people around the White House and was collectively led by the Indigenous Environmental Network’s delegation, along with the Sierra Club and 350.org leaders and supporters. The crowd then finished the day with a friendship round dance.
“The best part of the rally was that it ended with a round dance. All day long the center of gravity was provided by indigenous people from across the continent; it’s such an honor to join with them in this fight,” said Bill McKibben, Founder of 350.org, friend and ally of the Indigenous Environmental Network.
Marty Cobenais, Indigenous Environmental Network’s Pipeline Organizer
firstname.lastname@example.org – 218-760-0284
Kandi Mossett, Indigenous Environmental Network’s Native Energy and Climate Organizer
email@example.com – 701-214-1389
Declaration of Commitment to Indigenous Peoples
Humanity faces a time in our evolving story when we must harvest our deepest collective wisdom in order to survive and even thrive as a healthy, peaceful and sustainable planetary civilization.
In the course of humanity’s journey we have many great achievements to celebrate and honor but we have to acknowledge what has been misguided, damaging to each other and harmful to all life. It is time for healing and a new beginning.
Great skill is now needed to reconnect the bonds of our collective interdependence on behalf of all of Earth’s diverse peoples and cultures and to restore an original contract with our planet’s eco-system and its intricate design for all life.
We cannot evolve skillfully at this vital juncture in our collective story if we fail to integrate the teachings of our wisdom keepers.
Both reason and conscience require that the precious wisdom of Earth’s Indigenous peoples be fully acknowledged. Their skillful ways of living in harmony with Nature and its laws have too often been marginalized and ignored.
Humanity has paid a great price for destructive actions committed against Indigenous peoples. In the name of religion, profit and progress, some of humanity’s greatest knowledge about the interrelationship of all life forms has been placed in jeopardy.
Increasing numbers of people now recognize the importance of supporting the transmission of this essential wisdom.
It is in this spirit of deep recognition and appreciation for the value of Indigenous wisdom that we, the signatories to this declaration, hereby proclaim our commitment to the following:
Apology is due to Indigenous peoples for the suppression and violation of their cultures and ways of being. We invite communities, institutions, local authorities and governments to formally and informally offer sincere apology for past actions that resulted in cultural oppression and denigration.
Responsibility for past violations, wounding and discrimination must be expressed in truthful historical narratives and educational materials. We recommend the formation of local and national initiatives to take responsibility for the past and explore the nature of Indigenous wisdom. We encourage support for the production of a wide array of accessible media and curricular materials to set the record straight and ensure the accurate and appropriate transmission of Native wisdom teachings.
Reconciliation must be sought so that healing may occur between Indigenous and non-Indigenous peoples. We call on representatives of public and private institutions to seek ways to engage in meaningful acts and processes of reconciliation through ceremony, presentations and gatherings.
Collaboration in multiple contexts relating to health, environment, sustainable economies and educational opportunities will constitute an essential dimension of expressing sincere apology, acknowledging responsibility and fostering reconciliation. To these ends we encourage collaboration with Indigenous communities and institutions to optimize our collective learning and healing in this pivotal time for all humanity.
We, the undersigned, pledge our commitment to these ideals and the promotion of concrete actions to support respect for Indigenous peoples, a shared partnership for life on Earth and the transmission of our collective wisdom:
(Click here to see signatories and to sign: www.declarationofcommitment.com)
NCAI: Resolution against the Keystone XL Pipeline
The National Congress of American Indians
Title: Opposition to the Construction of the Keystone XL Pipeline and Urging the U.S. to Reduce Reliance on Oil from Tar Sands and Instead, to Work towards Cleaner, Sustainable Energy Solutions
WHEREAS, we, the members of the National Congress of American Indians of the United States, invoking the divine blessing of the Creator upon our efforts and purposes, in order to preserve for ourselves and our descendants the inherent sovereign rights of our Indian nations, rights secured under Indian treaties and agreements with the United States, and all other rights and benefits to which we are entitled under the laws and Constitution of the United States, to enlighten the public toward a better understanding of the Indian people, to preserve Indian cultural values, and otherwise promote the health, safety and welfare of the Indian people, do hereby establish and sumbit the following resolution; and
From Alberta down through Canada and the Great Plains Nations- and from D.C. to LA, people of all walks of life, from Lakota Grandmothers to the farmers and cowboys of Nebraska and Texas are coming together to fight the building of the KXL and the destruction and devastation from tar sands extraction. Click here to read more actions, articles, events, and information regarding the KXL pipeline.
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Forward on Climate
Forward on Climate March, Feb 17, 2013, Washington D.C. Indigenous Environmental Network joining with 350.org, Sierra Club, and HipHop Caucus to send a message to President Obama to deny the Keystone XL Pipeline and to help us to transition to sustainable and renewable sources of energy. Photo Credit: Jenna Pope