(Photo by Joaqlin Estus)
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!
Standing Rock Organizer
The Lakota People’s Law Project
Lakota People’s Law Project
547 South 7th Street #149
Bismarck, ND 58504-5859
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.”
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.
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
“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
|Victory! NoDAPL Depositions Unsealed|
“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.
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.
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.”
· 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 Sûreté 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.
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.
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.”
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.”
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.”
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.”
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.”
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 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
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.