Revoke The Doctrine of Discovery

Lakota Law

 

Steve Newcomb

Steve Newcomb discusses the Doctrine of Discovery

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!

Phyllis Young
Standing Rock Organizer
The Lakota People’s Law Project

 

Lakota People’s Law Project
547 South 7th Street #149
Bismarck, ND 58504-5859

Autumn Peltier

https://www.theglobeandmail.com/canada/article-indigenous-teen-autumn-peltier-urges-un-to-respect-clean-water/Indigenous Voices

Indigenous water activist Autumn Peltier addressed hundreds of international guests at UN headquarters in Manhattan Saturday.

The 15-year-old activist from Wiikwemkoong First Nation on Manitoulin Island in northern Ontario urged the global community to respect the sacredness and importance of clean water.

“I’ve said it once, and I’ll say it again, we can’t eat money, or drink oil.”

‘This is our future’: Coast to coast portraits of students at the climate strike

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 Visit to Standing Rock and Pine Ridge

https://www.facebook.com/LakotaPeoplesLawProject/?emci=e1613360-b3e7-e911-b5e9-2818784d6d68&emdi=ec502f73-c9e7-e911-b5e9-2818784d6d68&ceid=2659296

 

Greta Thunberg

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.

I can’t wait to share more with you later in the week. In the meantime, you can catch a video stream of our talk at Red Cloud at the Lakota People’s Law Project Facebook page. Stay tuned!

Pilamaya — I appreciate your solidarity with our struggle!

Tokata Iron Eyes
The Lakota People’s Law Project

 

Lakota People’s Law Project
547 South 7th Street #149
Bismarck, ND 58504-5859

 

“We Will Stand Up”

https://newsmaven.io/indiancountrytoday/news/n%C3%AEpawistam%C3%A2sowin-we-will-stand-up-is-an-emotional-award-winning-film-ke3Z5fj33keTGk6-VdlwpA/

‘nîpawistamâsowin: We Will Stand Up’ is an emotional award-winning film

https _images.saymedia-content.com_.image_MTY2ODE5MjE5MjMxNDgzMDAx_debbie-and-jade

“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.”

By Vincent Schilling

 

 

NoDAPL Depositions Unsealed

Victory! NoDAPL Depositions Unsealed
Wed, Sep 11, 2019 3:15 pm
Chase Iron Eyes, Lakota Law (info@lakotalaw.org)To:you Details

https://www.lakotalaw.org/our-actions/lplp-donate

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.

It’s critical that friends like you make an alternative investment in our movement. Your gift today can help us counter efforts to protect profits over people and oil over water by growing the power and reach of our resistance. We’re dedicating considerable staff hours to honing and disseminating our discovery materials so we and other legal teams can be fully prepared to fight environmental racism in court. We are all in this together.

Lakota Law
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
Lead Counsel
The Lakota People’s Law Project

 

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.

Trans Mountain Pipeline

Trans Mountain pipeline expansion faces new setback as Indigenous opponents score ‘huge win’ in court

“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.”

https://www.thestar.com/politics/federal/2019/09/04/federal-court-to-rule-on-letting-trans-mountain-pipeline-challenges-proceed.html

 

 

AFN National Chief urges Canada to press Brazil over violence against Indigenous people

Former justice minister Jody Wilson Raybould says it’s important for countries and leaders to speak out

Assembly of First Nations National Chief Perry Bellegarde is calling on Canada to press Brazil over its treatment of Indigenous Peoples. (Jonathan Hayward/Canadian Press)

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.

Foreign Affairs Minister Chrystia Freeland spoke with AFN National Chief Perry Bellegarde over the contents of his letter this week. (Paul Chiasson/The Canadian Press)

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.

A fire burns a tract of Amazon jungle as it is cleared by loggers and farmers near Porto Velho, Brazil. (Ricardo Moraes/Reuters)

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.

Jody Wilson-Raybould says Indigenous Peoples in Brazil’s Amazon are at risk. (Ben Nelms/CBC)

“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.”

About the Author

Jorge Barrera

Reporter

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 jorge.barrera@cbc.ca.

Stealing of Land

https://www.cbc.ca/news/politics/oka-kanesatake-land-dispute-2019-federal-response-1.5244453

Land dispute between Mohawks and village not resolved 29 years after Oka crisis

Olivia Stefanovich, Christina Romualdo · CBC News ·

 

With just over two months until the federal election, the governing Liberals find themselves walking a fine line in trying to defuse tensions between the Village of Oka and the Mohawk people of Kanesatake in Quebec.

How the situation is handled could have a big impact come election day, when Quebec and Indigenous votes matter.

“I think they’re taking a more cautious approach because it’s a highly explosive situation,” said Serge Simon, grand chief of the Mohawk Council of Kanesatake.

“If you get too involved, it blows. If you don’t get involved enough, it blows.”

The latest dispute between the two communities comes after Mayor Pascal Quevillon raised concerns that his village, located about 50 kilometres west of Montreal, would be “surrounded” by Kanesatake territory ⁠— including illegal pot shops, cigarette shacks and dumps ⁠— if a donation of 60 hectares of disputed land by local developer Grégoire Gollin is accepted by the Mohawk Council of Kanesatake through the federal government’s Ecological Gifts Program.

Norman Spector, who was the secretary to cabinet for federal-provincial relations in 1990 at the start of the Oka crisis — the 78-day armed standoff between the people of Kanesatake and the Sû​reté du Québec and later the Canadian military — and chief of staff to former Conservative prime minister Brian Mulroney by the end of it, said because the dispute is of interest to both Quebec and Indigenous voters, it is a key issue for all the federal parties.

“I think there’s a lot of sympathy for Indigenous people across the country, including in Quebec, but naturally, [the Liberals] would be more sensitive to the majority, which are not Indigenous people,” Spector said.

Oka Mayor Pascal Quevillon speaks to reporters as he arrives for a meeting with federal and provincial representatives in Montreal on July 26 in relation to the ongoing Oka and Kanesatake land dispute. (Graham Hughes/The Canadian Press)

The stakes in Quebec for Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s government “are huge, and it’s fair to say that without strong, strong support in Quebec, it’s almost unimaginable that Mr. Trudeau could be returning with a majority government,” he said.

Kanesatake and Oka are in the federal riding of Mirabel, which is represented by rookie MP Simon Marcil of the Bloc Québécois. In 2015, Marcil beat former NDP MP Mylène Freeman by 1.4 percentage points.

With the NDP losing its foothold in Quebec, the Liberals are expected to make a strong push for more seats in the province.

Several First Nations are in negotiations with the federal government over land claims, and the situation in Oka could set a precedent for how private land donations are handled with Indigenous communities.

On-reserve voter turnout saw a historic increase in the 2015 election, thanks in large part to the Liberals’ promise to renew the country’s nation-to-nation relationship with Indigenous people.

That oft-repeated commitment has been questioned given recent events, such as the departure of Jody Wilson-Raybould, the country’s first Indigenous minister of justice and attorney-general, over the SNC-Lavalin affair.

Signs like this are placed along the highway through Kanesatake and Oka, Que. (Olivia Stefanovich/CBC)

Ellen Gabriel, a Mohawk activist and spokesperson for Kanesatake during the Oka crisis, said many Indigenous voters were already disillusioned with outside government long before the recent tensions in her community.

“I think that the constituents’ needs, the constituents’ beliefs ⁠— true or not ⁠— are the most important thing to the federal government, and have been the most important thing to government, Quebec and federal,” Gabriel said.

“Our needs have also been at the bottom of priorities, as evident in how the Kanesatake siege was handled in the ’90s.”

Recent tension rising

The land being offered to Kanesatake is part of the Pines, a forest at the epicentre of the 1990 crisis, when the village tried to expand a nine-hole golf course over the community’s cemetery.

“It’s of the highest importance to my community that we start to get these lands that were promised under treaty and get it back to our community,” Simon said.

“The federal government has a big role to play in all of this. It’s a matter of just finding the right way of doing it and just moving ahead for the future.”

The Oka crisis was an awakening of Indigenous land rights for an entire generation. Even though the golf course expansion never happened, the land dispute still hasn’t been resolved.

The federal government has “done everything to distract from what the real issues are, which is the land,” said Gabriel.

“They basically told us: it’s been 300 years. Waiting a little bit longer won’t matter. That was their attitude.”

Ellen Gabriel, a Mohawk activist who was a spokesperson for Kanesatake during the 1990 Oka crisis, wants the federal government to show more leadership in the land dispute. (Olivia Stefanovich/CBC)

Today, the village is calling on Ottawa to be consulted over Gollin’s proposed land transfer, which has yet to be accepted by Kanesatake. The village wants the federal government to consult it on any land deal.

In return, Gollin would receive a tax credit and the pine forest would be protected from development; however, Quevillon said he is concerned the deal would lower property values in Oka.

Gollin has said he is prepared to discuss the sale of an additional 150 hectares that he owns in Oka to the federal government to be transferred to Kanesatake to help speed up the community’s land claim that it is negotiating with the federal government over Oka and surrounding areas.

“It is a profound act of reconciliation,” said Marc Miller, parliamentary secretary to Minister of Crown-Indigenous Relations Carolyn Bennett, about Gollin’s offer.

“But it [Kanesatake’s land claim] isn’t something that’ll be accomplished overnight … It is perhaps the most complex land arrangement and land claim grievance in all of Canada.”

Ottawa’s response ‘pretty tame’

Miller is the federal government’s main point of contact between Kanesatake, Oka and the Quebec government. He’s already had to navigate a response after Quevillon publicly stated that if Kanesatake takes Gollin up on his offer, there may be another Oka crisis — but this time it would be the people of Oka rising up against the Mohawk community.

Simon denounced Quevillon’s remarks as “racist” and “hate-filled” and called on the mayor to apologize.

Trudeau weighed in last month by saying Quevillon’s comments “lacked the necessary respect and understanding that is key to true reconciliation.”

But Trudeau’s response wasn’t strong enough for Simon.

“It’s been pretty tame,” Simon said.

“I would’ve expected, I think, a much more detailed condemnation of that type of language, but in hindsight, maybe it was for the best… Had [Trudeau] been more forceful in his condemnation, maybe it would’ve encouraged people in Oka to get behind their mayor being attacked by the prime minister of Canada. There may have been a use for that.”

The land in Oka and the surrounding area is traditional Mohawk territory, which Kanesatake is trying to reclaim. (Olivia Stefanovich/CBC)

Simon acknowledges there are political considerations at play, including “trying to protect votes in Quebec, trying to protect seats, trying to keep his [Trudeau’s] majority, so yeah, there’s political gain there as well.”

Miller insists the government’s involvement in the dispute is not directly related to the Oct. 21 election.

“This is about getting a relationship right, not a vote, getting people to vote for any particular party,” Miller said.

“It’s about making sure that a relationship that has been broken for decades gets fixed and gets fixed in the right way, and that any government, including ours ⁠— that is given the honour to retake power in 2019 in the fall ⁠— would do the same thing and continue on this path. If it happens to be another government, we would hope that they do the same thing.”

Public Hearing Set on DAPL Expansion!

9 a.m. on Wednesday, Nov. 13 at Emmons County Courthouse in Linton, North Dakota.

Great news! Nearly 20,000 of you sent letters to the North Dakota Public Service Commission supporting the call of Lakota leaders for a public hearing on the proposed expansion of the Dakota Access pipeline—and you have been heard! The Commission has set the time and place for the hearing: 9 a.m. on Wednesday, Nov. 13 at Emmons County Courthouse in Linton, North Dakota.

Now, it’s up to all of us to keep the pressure on the powers that be to make the right decisions. We are prepared to mount a fierce ground campaign to ensure that Native perspectives are well-represented and heard in November. Can you contribute now to help us win this critical pipeline fight?

Lakota Law
Lakota People’s Law Project Standing Rock Organizer Phyllis Young at the Democratic presidential debates in Detroit. Phyllis actively combats pipelines and works as an ambassador for clean energy solutions in Lakota Country.

There is much still to do. The process must be fully transparent, the public must be heard, and tribal concerns about the safety of pipelines must be properly addressed. This expansion aims to double the amount of oil DAPL carries to more than 1 million barrels each day—further endangering the environment we share.

And as you know, it’s not just DAPL we must resist; the Keystone XL pipeline buildout will soon be upon us here in Lakota Country. For this reason, we are working tirelessly with tribal leaders, other nonprofit organizations, and visionary politicians in D.C. to develop a cohesive, coordinated strategy to protect water and climate from dangerous fossil fuel infrastructure.

Following our recent meeting with Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, my colleagues Dan Nelson and Phyllis Young marched the streets of Detroit alongside other activists during the Democratic debates. Afterwards they met at length with Sunrise Movement founders. We’ve also engaged Bernie Sanders’ senate staff to produce a video about KXL—I urge you to stay tuned for that.

Your friendship helps us to keep working tirelessly to prevent the oil industry from despoiling the sacred. We won’t stop in our mission to elevate Indigenous voices in the national conversation. We’re building the connections that can—and will—have real impact, and we hope you will stay at our side at this crucial moment for Mother Earth.

Wopila Tanka—we can’t thank you enough for all that you do!

Chase Iron Eyes
Lead Counsel
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.

Breathing Lands

https://www.thestar.com/politics/political-opinion/2019/08/21/its-time-to-permanently-protect-13m-hectares-of-breathing-lands.html

It’s time to permanently protect 1.3M hectares of ‘breathing lands’

 

donny_morris

 

I’m willing to bet most of those living in southern cities are completely oblivious to how the land protectors of the Kitchenuhmaykoosib Inninuwug First Nation have been working hard to keep the planet healthy.

Well, now it is time to take notice, give a bit of thanks to the Oji-Cree community and help protect the northern land — for the health of all of us.

Kitchenuhmaykoosib Inninuwug — KI for short, and also known as the Big Trout Lake First Nation — is about 600 kilometres northwest of Thunder Bay, high in the boreal forest region of northwestern Ontario. It is one of the largest intact examples of what scientists call “carbon storehouses” left on the planet. The people of KI call it the “breathing lands.”

KI has sent Environment Minister Catherine McKenna a proposal to make a 1.3-million hectare swath of that land into what’s known as an Indigenous Protected Area. If the proposal is accepted, it will be a “gift to the world,” the community says. They are now waiting to hear if their $1.2 million, four-year, proposal — made in partnership with the neighbouring Wapekeka First Nation — is one of 27 Indigenous-led protection plans announced by the minister on Monday. And KI is also waiting to see if the Ontario government will step up by refusing to allow mining and development in the protected area.

KI Chief Donny Morris told me on Tuesday that he expects the community’s plan to be federally approved but he “hasn’t seen any documentation” yet from Ottawa.

And he hasn’t heard anything from Ontario. Morris says he wrote to Indigenous Affairs Minister Greg Rickford on June 26 to ask for the province’s support after hearing nothing from the Ministry of Natural Resources and Forestry about the plan. Currently, KI says 47 per cent of the watershed does not permit mining or forestry; under the protection plan, the remaining territory would be withdrawn from mine staking.

If all three governments were to agree to this — KI, Ontario and Ottawa — it would be a step toward reconciliation as it would affirm the “leadership role Indigenous people have within our homelands,” Morris said in the letter. This would also help Canada and Ontario reach a goal of protecting 17 per cent of land and water by 2020, as agreed to in the global Aichi Biodiversity Target.

“I don’t know what is going on with this Ontario government,” said Morris, who added the community’s history with Rickford stretches back to before his days as the MP for Kenora in the Harper government. In fact, people in KI first knew the current MPP for Kenora-Rainy River as a community nurse and a lawyer.

“He is pretty well known,” said Morris. “I thought he’d be more responsive to our needs in the north.”

Maybe Rickford’s response got lost in the mail. His office told me it did get back to Morris on Aug. 19, only to tell him that the “Crown land” in the Far North isn’t his ministry’s responsibility — it’s managed by the Ministry of Natural Resources and Forestry.

“They have to understand we are the government of this land in the north. We have a treaty with two governments — Ontario and Ottawa. We want to protect the water, the land. Why can’t I be part of the decision-making process? Work with us, and we’ll work with you,” Morris said.

KI has a history of being a fierce protector of the land. In 2009, it cost the McGuinty government $5 million to settle litigation involving KI and a mineral exploration firm after a tense dispute that led to the jailing of six KI community members.

In 2011, the people of KI issued a watershed declaration covering the Fawn River and their home lake of Big Trout, protecting it through KI First Nation traditional knowledge and authority, laws and protocols. That protection also extends to boreal caribou, wolverine, moose, a variety of fish and countless migratory birds.

Elders have taught us that if you take care of the land, it will take care of you. We know this and so does the United Nations, which noted in its recent report on climate change that lands and rivers under Indigenous ownership and protection are simply healthier.

New: Presidential Forum

https://www.lakotalaw.org/news/2019-08-27/na-presidential-forum?emci=4918c543-e0c8-e911-bcd0-281878391efb&emdi=6f127674-f3c9-e911-bcd0-281878391efb&ceid=2659296&utm_source=ea&utm_medium=email&utm_content=textlink&sourceid=1036775Lakota Law

“We are thrilled that many major presidential contenders came to Indian Country to court our votes and are addressing our key issues, both in-person and in their platforms.”

To see what they had to say, you can view full videos of several of the candidates here.

As a 501(c)(3), we cannot endorse any one candidate or party. That said, we do believe it’s essential to share the information we have and to empower people to vote with as much knowledge as possible. We pushed back hard last November against vote suppression in North Dakota for that very reason, highlighted by this ABC Nightline episode featuring my colleague, Phyllis Young.

I am constantly inspired when working alongside President Julian Bear Runner. He is the second-youngest president in the Oglala Nation’s history, and as a fellow water protector at Standing Rock in 2017, he was arrested by my side. At the Forum, he used his panel appearance (with NY City Mayor Bill De Blasio) to challenge candidates to resist pipeline construction in Indian Country, combat meth use on the rez, and free Leonard Peltier.

I’m pretty sure this will be the only moment during the 2020 campaign when a candidate for president will have been asked to openly endorse Leonard’s release—and, to his credit, De Blasio didn’t hesitate. I encourage you to watch that exchange and the rest of the candidates in action.

It’s an exciting time, and I hope you will continue to stay informed and stand by us!

Wopila — Thank you, as always, for your friendship.

Chase Iron Eyes
Lead Counsel
The Lakota People’s Law Project