The Keystone XL pipeline may have divided advocates and lawmakers in Washington, but the controversial project has also united a wide group of Native American tribes whose lands the pipes would cross. The proposed pipeline would run for 1,179 miles from southern Alberta to the Gulf of Mexico, crossing through six states and the territories of numerous tribes from the Dene and Creek Nations to the Omaha, Ho-chunk and Panka tribes. These tribal nations say the US government has failed to adequately consult and negotiate the matter with them, despite the direct effect the pipeline’s route would have on their lands “I think that a lot of tribes are really frustrated at the lack of inclusion in this process that’s guaranteed through our treaty rights,” says Dallas Goldtooth of theIndigenous Environmental Network. Goldtooth says their primary concern is that the State Department’s permitting process has overlooked tribal treaties with the federal government.
Leaders of Occupy Oak Flat say they won’t give up until the U.S. government repeals the Southeast Arizona Land Exchange. The San Carlos Apache Tribe, leading a three-week protest at the Oak Flat Campground, vows to remain there until the federal government bends. The controversial exchange gave Australian-British mining company Resolution Copper (a subsidiary of the largest mining company in the world, Rio Tinto) access to a vast underground copper reserve under Oak Flat. The deal trades 2,400 acres of previously federally protected land for 5,300 acres of company property. The land exchange was attached to the 2015 United States National Defense Authorization Act as a midnight rider after it failed to pass as a stand-alone bill multiple times during the last decade.
For more than two weeks, protesters have made camp at Oak Flat, the site of a planned copper mine that will result in a massive crater on the sacred site’s surface. “We’re not moving,” said Wendsler Nosie, a former chairman of the San Carlos Apache Tribe and a vocal opponent of the mine. He is the organizer of the protest, which he describes as “Occupy Oak Flat.” Nosie and other mine opponents want a repeal of the legislation that turned over 2,400 acres of Tonto National Forest to a mining giant, before conducting environmental studies and having formal consultations with concerned tribal governments. “We can work with the United States to fix this,” he said in a phone interview. “If the United States fails and becomes defensive, then I have no control. There’s going to be a lot of tribes here coming from all over the country.”
There will also be new huge toxic waste tailings from the new mine extending many square miles in a fifty foot high pile. The collapse of the surface of old high desert land, ancient oak trees and sacred Native American land into the rubble of a huge pit is not necessary. It still can be stopped if Congress would make a small correction …or if protests and actions are necessary. The bottom line is simply that the rape of the land by foreign corporations makes no sense. It thrives on confusion and greed. Politicians also thrive in the related financial lobby support and must be corrected. Native Americans have come together in the face of another assault. They welcome support from others. The problem comes from within the structure of the United Sates, not sovereign Native American Nations. Recently the hint of occupation of the religious site has apparently started low flights of official airplanes buzzing the homes of the Tribe. The U.S. Forest Service has spied on the new events at Oak Flats but seems to be avoiding even consultation. A threat of eviction of the religious site has occurred and will possibly be faced in the coming few days. Attempts at intimidation must not be allowed. A move backward in the United States history of relations with Native Americans must not occur. Sensible people must speak and act now.
On Tuesday, October 7, at the base of Mauna Kea, the world’s tallest mountain, close to 200 activists joined in prayer, to preserve Hawai’i’ s most sacred place. The groundbreaking ceremony came to a dead halt when Joshua Lanakila Mangauil, a Native Hawaiian cultural practitioner, and other supporters made their way to the top of the mountain. Mangauil, who can be seen in the video below, stormed the ceremony unexpectedly and denounced the actions taking place. Mangauil’s impassioned pleas, among others, halted the events. Later, Mangauil said he wished it had gone differently. “It got to a boiling point that led to shutting the whole thing down. I hope we did the right thing, there were a lot of words,” he said.
Some 300 tribal members and supporters from across the country had gathered to protest the infringement of traditional Apache holy lands. There were Chippewa, Navajo, Lumbee, Paiute, Havasupai, and representatives of the National American Indian Movement and the National American Indian Veterans group, as well as non-indigenous supporters representing myriad concerns including those of environmentalists and other lovers of nature. All were furious at Congress’s sneaky transfer of sacred Apache land to a mining company and vowing to do what they could to see that it didn’t happen. “What was once a struggle to protect our most sacred site is now a battle,” said San Carlos Apache Tribal Chairman Terry Rambler, organizer of the grassroots movement aimed at stopping transfer of hundreds of acres of ceremonial land to those who would dig a mile-wide hole in the ground in a search for copper.
So just what is the state of Indian affairs today? Congress is again poised to significantly and negatively impact tribal lands via must-pass legislation. The Oceti Sakowin are unified against taking tribal lands that were never ceded to the United States, against a project that will bring increased violence, potential environmental destruction, and many other harms to their communities. Although the decision to attach Keystone XL to must-pass legislation likely won’t be made behind closed doors as it was with the Apache Land Grab, the end result will be the same: tribal people dispossessed of tribal lands to benefit extractive industries.
Hundreds of indigenous people deep in the Peruvian Amazon are blocking a major Amazon tributary following what they say is the government’s failure to address a social and environmental crisis stemming from oil operations. Kichwa men, women and children from numerous communities have been protesting along the River Tigre for almost a month, barring the river with cables and stopping oil company boats from passing. Oil companies have operated in the region for over 40 years, and have been linked by local people to pollution that has led the government to declare “environmental emergencies” in the Tigre and other river basins.
A 150-year-old tribal fishing treaty could be the thing that blocks a proposed coal terminal in Bellingham. The Lummi Nation, which has a reservation in the area, says that it will not compromise with Pacific International Terminals, the company that aims to ship 54 million metric tons of goods—mostly coal—to Asia annually through Lummi fishing waters. In early January, Lummi leaders sent a letter asking the Army Corps of Engineers to block a permit for the proposed Gateway Pacific Terminal. Noise, pollution, and oil spill risks would compromise fishing treaty rights the tribe established in 1855, they said. A recent environmental impact study issued by the Department of Ecology found that the terminal would increase disruption of Lummi fishing activityby up to 76 percent.
Sylvia McAdam and Jessica Gordon are remarkable women. They, with intrepid co-founders Nina Wilson and Sheelah Mclean, created Idle No More in 2012 to protest Bill C-45, the Harper government’s omnibus budget bill. Amongst other things, the bill aimed to amend the Navigable Waters Protection Act, reducing environmental protection for waterways across Canada. The movement’s largely indigenous followers marched, rallied and peacefully blockaded for months all over Canada, dominating national and international headlines. Ultimately, Bill C-45 was passed, but Idle No More is still widely seen as a game-changer within Canada regarding indigenous issues due to the youth of the movement and its’ use of social media.
Apache leader Wendsler Nosie issued a call for solidarity in the fight against Congress’ recent decision to give sacred Native American land to a foreign mining company. Speaking to a crowd of about 75 gathered Friday in South Tucson, Nosie invited people of of all races, religions and political affiliations to stand up against what he calls the “dirty” way in which legislators approved the land swap in December. He invited everyone to a spiritual gathering and protest at Oak Flat, about 100 miles north of Tucson, next Saturday. “This is not just our fight. This is an American battle,” said Nosie, former chairman of the San Carlos Apache Tribe. The reservation’s border is just east of the proposed copper mine at Oak Flat, sacred to Western Apache and Yavapai people.
CALL OUT for communities across Canada to blockade their local railway, port or highway on February 13th. Don’t buy, don’t fly, no work and keep the kids home from school. A diversity of tactics is highly recommended! Get everyone involved” (#ShutDownCanada). The ShutDownCanada callout was made by a group called In Solidarity with all Land Defenders who describe themselves as “a collective of indigenous and settler grassroots organizers/activists based out of so called Vancouver(xʷməθkwəy̓əm(Musqueam), Sḵwx̱wú7mesh (Squamish), and Səl̓ílwətaʔ/Selilwitulh (Tsleil-Waututh) land)”.
The Oceti Sakowin, the traditional name for my Dakota, Lakota, and Nakota peoples, are rising up to protect Mother Earth. We are mobilizing a resistance that could prove to be the game changer in the fight to stop the proposed Keystone XL pipeline and help shut down the tar sand projects in northern Alberta. Our resistance to the Keystone XL pipeline and other tar sand infrastructure is grounded in our inherent right to self-determination as indigenous peoples. As the original caretakers, we know what it will take to ensure these lands are available for generations to come. This pipeline will leak, it will contaminate the water. It will encourage greater tar sands development, which, in turn, will increase carbon emissions.
Washington Slurskins name opponents are staging a rally Sunday morning near FedEx Field, the first significant protest targeting the team’s stadium and its most fervent fans and moniker defenders. M0re than 100 people — a number less than organizers hoped for — gathered in a grass lot across from Jericho City of Praise, a church about one-third of a mile east of the stadium, where the Slurskins are playing the Cowboys at 1 p.m. The lot is surrounded by yellow caution tape and police are stationed on each side. Across the street just east of them, fans barbecued and tossed footballs in a parking lot. Some stared.
Conflicts over mining are expanding across Guatemala. According to a recent report by Amnesty International, the Canadian government and Canada-based multinational mining companies have played a major role in the conflicts and abuses of human rights in indigenous communities. For the indigenous Mayan communities of Guatemala, the process of participatory decision-making takes the form of the community consulta, or consultation, which has played an important role in the interactions between indigenous peoples and the government. According to articles 1, 66, and 67 of the Guatemalan constitution, the government is required to respect indigenous land and protect their communal ownership system. In the event that a mining permit is issued on the land of indigenous communities, the government must consult the population two weeks prior to the issuing of permits for explorations.