Wednesday, Oct. 30, 2019 photo provided by the North Dakota Department of Environmental Quality shows affected land from a Keystone oil pipeline leak near Edinburg, North Dakota. Regulators said TC Energy’s Keystone pipeline leaked an estimated 383,000 gallons of oil in northeastern North Dakota, though the cause was still under investigation. (North Dakota Department of Environmental Quality/Taylor DeVries)
Here is the news about the pipeline leaking once again four years after I went to Standing Rock to protest the building of the pipeline, four years after I brought a banner from my school to present to the elders.
Breaking news: Yesterday, the Keystone pipeline spilled again. This highlights the need to thank those of you who recently wrote to the North Dakota Public Service Commission requesting a public hearing on the potential doubling of oil carried by the Dakota Access pipeline. I am very happy to say that, along with the Standing Rock Tribe’s official intervention, your voice helped compel the Commission to schedule that hearing. It’s coming up next week — on Wednesday, November 13th at 9 a.m. at Emmons County Courthouse in Linton, right across the river from Standing Rock.
Now, particularly in light of yet another pipeline spill, I ask you to join four Great Sioux Nation tribal chairmen and our allies around the world in telling the Commission to VOTE NO on this dangerous DAPL expansion. Even if you can’t make it to North Dakota, you can still be heard! Use this form to send an email to the PSC, show your solidarity, and make sure the commission knows it must not further imperil our sacred lands and water. Please stand again with Standing Rock — wherever you are.
Clockwise from top left: Charles Walker, Standing Rock Tribal Council; Phyllis Young, Lakota Law organizer; Harold Frazier, Cheyenne River Tribal Chairman; Ladonna Allard, Sacred Stone Camp founder.
Even without the needed further study of environmental impact, we already know several reasons the PSC should deny this expansion. One, DAPL’s leak detection system is sub-par; doubling the current oil flow could allow as much as 11,000 barrels to despoil our water before detection. Two, government regulators say they don’t have data to prove that increasing capacity is safe. And three, DAPL will carry tar sands oil from Canada — some of the dirtiest and most corrosive oil in the world — thereby posing an even greater threat of leakage.
This expansion would be a reckless act of greed. As you’ll see in our video, leaders from the Oglala, Rosebud, and Cheyenne River Nations stand with us against this new danger to our people and Mother Earth. We must not be silenced. We must be strong and united in our message to the PSC: all due diligence should be conducted; the tribes, and allies like you, should be heard; the Earth should be respected.
Wopila tanka and mni wiconi — Thank you. Water is life.
Standing Rock Sioux Tribal Council
Via the Lakota People’s Law Project
Several of the plaintiffs and their attorneys spoke at a press conference held outside the courthouse after oral arguments. Back row (left to right): Kaytlyn Kelly, 19, Palmer; Sebastian Kurland, 20, Juneau; Andrew Welle, attorney; Front row (left to right): Lila S, 7, Homer; Cecily S, 9, Homer; Lexine D., Gwitch’in, 10, Fairbanks; Summer Sagoonik, Inupiaq, 18, Unalakleet; Esau Sinnok, Inupiaq, 21, Shishmaref; Brad De Noble, attorney.(Photo by Joaqlin Estus)
As an Indigenous woman, I feel the heavy weight of history. At Standing Rock, the dual traumas of colonization and the exploitation of Grandmother Earth have collided in our battles against oil extraction and pipelines. I cannot thank you enough for your support—and I ask you to stay with us through November’s hearing on DAPL’s expansion and the planned construction of Keystone XL in 2020. Pipeline resistance must and will remain our top priority for the foreseeable future.
As Native activists, our work to reclaim our own history is also critical. That’s why we’re challenging the root legal argument behind the subjugation of so many Indigenous people, both here and around the world. The Doctrine of Discovery, a papal declaration from the 15th century, was used as a basis for Manifest Destiny and continues to haunt my people today. It was cited by a Supreme Court justice as recently as 2005.
In February of 2017 at Standing Rock, the Oceti Sakowin issued a declaration in defiance of the Doctrine’s objectives. And earlier this year, I helped the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe organize and host a Doctrine of Discovery Conference, where we brought in top experts to explore solutions. I encourage you to watch our new video, in which a world-recognized Shawnee and Lenape expert, Steve Newcomb, sits down with us to explore how the Doctrine of Discovery still allows the domination of Indigenous peoples to this day.
We also went straight to the source. In 2016, the support of friends like you helped us organize 35 organizations to submit letters to Pope Francis demanding that he overturn the Doctrine. We also met in Rome with Cardinal Peter Turkson, a progressive from Ghana who oversees social justice ministry for the Church. The Vatican knows the deeply problematic nature of the Doctrine of Discovery and is considering Indigenous communities’ desire to have it revoked.
So, we fight on many fronts. I invite you to stay tuned and reach out to our team with ideas and solutions. Together with you, we are empowered. My hope is that in 2020, we can use our collective strength to stem the tides of imperialism, colonization, environmental racism, and the climate crisis.
Wopila — thank you for your solidarity!
Standing Rock Organizer
The Lakota People’s Law Project
Lakota People’s Law Project
547 South 7th Street #149
Bismarck, ND 58504-5859
Peltier spoke at the Global Landscapes Forum, a platform on sustainable land use founded by UN Environment and the World Bank that’s dedicated to achieving development and climate goals.
She used the speech to draw attention to the lack of clean water in numerous Indigenous communities, which she says sparked her activism.
“All across these lands, we know somewhere were someone can’t drink the water. Why so many, and why have they gone without for so long?”
She said she’s been taught traditional knowledge from an early age about the sacredness of water, and that more should learn these lessons.
“Maybe we need to have more elders and youth together sitting at the decision table when people make decisions about our lands and waters.”
Peltier called for an end to plastic use as one step in restoring a more sustainable world.
Her speech comes a day after huge crowds took to the streets in Canada as part of a global climate strike.
The speech was her second at the UN headquarters, having urged the General Assembly to “warrior up” and take a stand for our planet last year.
Peltier, who is nominated for the 2019 International Children’s Peace Prize by the David Suzuki Foundation, has spread her message at hundreds of events around the world.
In 2015, Peltier attended the Children’s Climate Conference in Sweden, and a year later, confronted Prime Minister Justin Trudeau about his “broken promises” at a meeting of the Assembly of First Nations.
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Greta Thunberg (L), Jamie Margolin (C), and me in Washington, D.C.
I’m excited to share with you that my friend, Greta Thunberg, is joining me for three events over the next three days in Lakota Country. More on that in a minute, but first, let me introduce myself. I’m Tokata Iron Eyes, daughter of Chase Iron Eyes, whom you have heard from many times in the past.
My father’s work on behalf of Native justice and environmental concerns is also my work. I will add that, as a young woman of color, I focus much of my energy on the issues of Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women and the climate crisis, as they are particularly close to my heart. I may be a high school junior, but I have already traveled the world and made many appearances to speak on these critical topics, including at January’s Women’s March in Washington, D.C.
I met Greta on a later trip to the capital. We were both in town to speak at an Amnesty International event. Being both the same age and vocal climate warriors, we quickly found that we have much in common, even though our backgrounds may look different.
As you likely know, Greta comes from Sweden, where, at 15, she began protesting a lack of climate action in Parliament. From there, she quickly rose to worldwide prominence, organizing school climate strikes, giving a TED Talk, and appearing on the cover of Time magazine.
I felt it was important to invite her to come see my homelands, and I’m so happy she accepted my invitation. We’ll be speaking on my home campus of Red Cloud Indian School tomorrow at 5 p.m. MST, then hosting an event in Rapid City on Monday before heading to Standing Rock, where I spent most of my earlier years, on Tuesday at 10 a.m. CST.
Together, we want to share our mutual inspiration to take action on the climate with more kids — and with adults, too. Our struggles here against the Dakota Access and Keystone XL pipelines are the tip of the spear in a global effort to move away from fossil fuels and begin living more conscious lives together, in harmony with our Grandmother Earth.
‘nîpawistamâsowin: We Will Stand Up’ is an emotional award-winning film
“Colten Boushie was a young Native man, who decided to trade his life for an effort to create more understanding, more exposure for the unjust world of the legal system and unfair perception of Indigenous people.”
I write to you to share a big win for our movement. On Aug. 28—the day a North Dakota court wiped clean my record from the protests at Standing Rock—my legal team succeeded in convincing our judge that discovery material from my trial must be made public. This important victory for transparency and the First Amendment can better position water protectors for the battle against Keystone XL. These depositions now become valuable legal resources, especially as more states criminalize protest and hire private armies to protect their fossil fuel investments.
Outside the courthouse in Devil’s Lake, North Dakota, Daniel Sheehan and I discuss the importance of the judge’s decision to release discovery materials from my trial.
In depositions, our Lakota Law legal team pressed law enforcement officers on their lack of knowledge about treaty law and their inappropriate collusion with TigerSwan, a private military security firm for hire. These records can now assist other water protectors, attorneys, journalists, and filmmakers still trying to accurately convey the real story of Standing Rock and protect the importance of free speech in America.
Today, our movement to safeguard sacred water and ancestral lands has new momentum, but we still have much to do. White nationalists beholden to the oil lobby remain in power and, every day, our climate slips closer to the brink—just two more reasons to fight harder together. Free at last of any legal restrictions, I’m ready to press forward with all required urgency! I hope you’ll keep standing at my side, in person and in spirit.
Wopila tanka — Thank you, always, for your compassion and determination.
Chase Iron Eyes
The Lakota People’s Law Project
Lakota People’s Law Project
547 South 7th #149
Bismarck, ND 58504-5859
The Lakota People’s Law Project is part of the Romero Institute, a nonprofit 501(c)(3) law and policy center. All donations are tax-deductible.
“VANCOUVER—In the latest setback for the Trans Mountain expansion, the Federal Court of Appeal has approved six new Indigenous legal challenges to the project, once again raising questions about the fate of the pipeline.
The Crown corporation that now owns Trans Mountain said planning and construction will move forward in the meantime, but lawyer and resource development strategist Bill Gallagher said he wouldn’t expect to see “any shovels in the ground any time soon.”
Canada needs to pressure Brazil to end violations of Indigenous rights, says the head of Canada’s largest Indigenous organization in a letter sent to Global Affairs Minister Chrystia Freeland and obtained by CBC News.
Assembly of First Nations National Chief Perry Bellegarde sent the letter dated Aug. 24 to Freeland urging Canada pressure Brazil to “end its violence” against Indigenous Peoples.
Bellegarde said he was writing the letter to voice his “sadness and grave concerns” over land invasions and attacks by gold miners, ranchers and loggers on Indigenous territories in the northern Amazon region of Brazil that resulted in assaults on Waiapi women and the killing of Waiapi Chief Emyra Waiapi.
“Canada must act now to express its commitment to the enjoyment of human rights by Indigenous Peoples everywhere by urging the government of Brazil to protect Indigenous Peoples,” said Bellegarde in the letter.
“I urge you to do what you can to communicate the need for the government of Brazil to end this violence and to stand up for the human rights of Indigenous people of the Amazonia.”
Bellegarde said in the letter that the Indigenous Peoples of the Amazon were in need of international support and he would be willing to “assist in communicating the joint concern of Canada and the Assembly of First Nations about this grave human rights situation.”
The AFN represents 634 First Nations across the country.
Freeland’s office said in a statement that the minister spoke with Bellegarde earlier this week and discussed the contents of the letter.
“Canada is extremely concerned by the fires in the Amazon rainforest and their impact on Indigenous people who have lived there for generations,” said the statement.
The statement said Freeland had also recently spoken with the foreign ministers in Brazil, Bolivia and Peru on the wildfire situation in the Amazon.
Brazilian president openly critical of Indigenous territories
The Brazilian government of Jair Bolsonaro’s aggressive posture toward the country’s Indigenous territories was put under the international spotlight again as wildfires raged in the Amazon at an unprecedented rate.
Bolsonaro has been openly critical of territories set aside for Indigenous Peoples that were enshrined in that country’s 1988 Constitution.
In an Associated Press report Friday, Bolsonaro told reporters that past allocations of land to Indigenous people, many of whom live in the Amazon rainforest, had been excessive. About 14 per cent of Brazil is Indigenous territory, a huge area for a relatively small population, Bolsonaro said.
Without offering evidence, Bolsonaro initially suggested that non-governmental organizations started the fires to try to damage the credibility of his government, which has called for looser environmental regulations in the world’s largest rainforest to spur development.
On Thursday, Brazil banned most legal fires for land-clearing for 60 days in an attempt to stop the burning. Many fires were set in already deforested areas to open land for farming and pasture.
‘We need to support Indigenous people throughout the world’
Jody Wilson-Raybould, the former justice minister who will run as an Independent candidate in Vancouver in the coming federal election, said the survival of Indigenous Peoples in Brazil’s Amazon is at risk.
“They are a vanguard, they are on the bleeding edge of the reality of development, of recognizing Indigenous rights, recognizing the importance of the survival of communities and what Indigenous communities have to offer in terms of stewardship and Indigenous knowledge,” Wilson-Raybould told CBC News.
Wilison-Raybould, who is a former AFN regional chief, said countries such as Canada need to speak out when Indigenous rights are threatened elsewhere.
“As an Indigenous person in this country whose rights have been denied for so long, and the reality of the colonial legacy that exists in this country, it’s debilitating, and we need to support Indigenous people throughout the world that are facing similar, awful situations,” said Wilson-Raybould.
“We can’t continue to stand by and this is where it’s incredibly important for leaders, countries and Indigenous Peoples to speak out when they see this happening.”
Jorge Barrera is a Caracas-born, award-winning journalist who has worked across the country and internationally. He works for CBC’s Indigenous unit based out of Ottawa. Follow him on Twitter @JorgeBarrera or email him firstname.lastname@example.org.