Thursday, February 06, 2014

Protecting the Waters and the Lands

Indigenous Groups: 'No Keystone XL Pipeline Will Cross Our Lands'

Native American communities along proposed route vow resistance against 'black snake' pipeline

- Sarah Lazare, staff writer 
Native American communities are promising fierce resistance to stop TransCanada from building, and President Barack Obama from permitting, the northern leg of the Keystone XL pipeline."No Keystone XL pipeline will cross Lakota lands," declares a joint statement from Honor the Earth, the Oglala Sioux Nation, Owe Aku, and Protect the Sacred. "We stand with the Lakota Nation, we stand on the side of protecting sacred water, we stand for Indigenous land-based lifeways which will NOT be corrupted by a hazardous, toxic pipeline."

Members of seven Lakota nation tribes, as well as indigenous communities in Idaho, Oklahoma, Montana, Nebraska and Oregon, are preparing to take action to stop Keystone XL.

“It will band all Lakota to live together and you can’t cross a living area if it’s occupied,” said Greg Grey Cloud, of the Rosebud Sioux Tribe, in an interview with Aboriginal Peoples Television Network. “If it does get approved we aim to stop it.”

The indigenous-led 'Moccasins on the Ground' program has been laying the groundwork for this resistance for over two years by giving nonviolent direct action trainings to front-line communities.
"We go up to wherever we've been invited, usually along pipeline routes," said Kent Lebsock, director of the Owe Aku International Justice Project, in an interview with Common Dreams. "We have three-day trainings on nonviolent direct action. This includes blockade tactics, and discipline is a big part of the training as well. We did nine of them last summer and fall, all the way from Montana to South Dakota, as well as teach-ins in Colorado and a training camp in Oklahoma."

"We are working with nations from Canada and British Columbia, as well as with the people where tar sands are located," Lebsock added.

"As an example of this nonviolent direct action," explains Lebsock, in March 2012 people at the Pine Ridge Reservation in South Dakota held a blockade to stop trucks from transporting parts of the Keystone XL pipeline through the reservation.

In August 2013, members of the Nez Perce tribe blockaded megaloads traveling Idaho's Highway 12 to the Alberta tar sands fields.

Descendants of the Ponca Tribe and non-native allies held a Trail of Tears Spiritual Camp in Nebraska in November to prevent the construction of the pipeline.

More spiritual camps along the proposed route of the pipeline are promised, although their date and location are not yet being publicly shared.

The promises of joint action follow the U.S. State Department’s public release on Friday of the Final Environmental Impact Statement (FEIS). This report has been widely criticized as tainted by the close ties between Transcanada and the Environmental Resource Management contractor hired to do the report.

While the oil industry is largely spinning the report as a green-light for the pipeline, green groups emphasize that it contains stern warnings over the massive carbon pollution that would result if the pipeline is built, including the admission that tar sands oil produces approximately 17 percent more carbon than traditional crude.

The release of the FEIS kicked off a 90-day inter-agency review and 30-day public comment period. The pipeline's opponents say now is a critical time to prevent Obama from approving the pipeline, which is proposed to stretch 1,179 miles from Alberta, Canada, across the border to Montana, and down to Cushing, Oklahoma where it would link with other pipelines, as part of a plan to drastically increase Canada's tar sands production.

The southern half of the Keystone XL pipeline — which begins in Cushing, passes through communities in Oklahoma and East Texas, and arrives at coastal refineries and shipping ports — began operations last month after facing fierce opposition and protest from people in its path.
"Let's honor the trail blazers from the Keystone XL south fight," said Idle No More campaigner Clayton Thomas-Muller. "Time for some action, and yes, some of us may get arrested!”



When a Pipeline Crosses a Trail of Tears

Right here in the heartland of America, the divisive Keystone XL pipeline is uniting people in ways few could ever have imagined.
Consider the events that brought Betty Albrecht of Atkinson, and Mekasi Horinek, of the Ponca Reservation in Oklahoma, to a meeting on hallowed ground. Every Memorial Day, when Albrecht was a little girl growing up in Tilden - a small farm town in northeastern Nebraska - her family would drive 15 miles north to Neligh to place flowers at the grave of White Buffalo Girl, an 18-month-old who died there on May 23, 1877.

The townspeople of Neligh had laid White Buffalo Girl to rest at the request of her grief-stricken father, just four days into the forced march that sent the Ponca Nation from its Nebraska homelands south to Oklahoma. For 136 years, the people of Neligh have honored his plea to care for the grave of his daughter as if she had been one of their own. He could not even stay for the burial. 
So it was particularly moving for Albrecht, who now lives on a cattle ranch 75 miles farther up the road, to revisit that hilltop cemetery of her girlhood memories last Saturday, surrounded by Oklahoma descendants of the tribe who survived what they call the Ponca Trail of Tears.

That grave was brimming with mums, roses, daffodils, poppies and sun-bleached stuffed toy bears. Standing beside her at the gravesite was Horinek, an eloquent activist and grandfather of nine, who works for the Tribal Agriculture Department on the Ponca reservation. He brought his two youngest sons north that weekend to visit the land from where his great grandfather fled as a boy; to show them this sacred ground.

It was the Keystone XL pipeline, and a deeply felt loathing of it, that brought these two from vastly different backgrounds together.  

Albrecht is a member of NEAT, the Nebraska Easement Action Team, a landowners’ rights group that is battling the TransCanada pipeline and threats of eminent domain to run the pipeline through regardless of property owner opposition.

The proposed Keystone XL corridor is vital for TransCanada’s plan to expand its tar sands mining operations in Alberta. The high-pressure line would ship hot, diluted bitumen from the Alberta sites to Louisiana, where it would be refined for shipment overseas. Keystone XL would punch into Nebraska just 50 miles north of Albrecht’s farm, and slice right through her neighbor’s property.
“For some, this is a tribal issue, for others, it’s about property rights,” said Albrecht. “My personal feeling is that my government is doing to us what they did to the Indians.”

Albrecht and Horinek met earlier on Art and Helen Tanderup’s 160 acre farm, eight miles north of Neligh, at an event billed the Trail of Tears Ponca Spiritual Camp. The Tanderups had welcomed members of the Ponca, Lakota, Omaha and Oceti Sakowin tribes, as well as members of the anti-pipeline activist group Bold Nebraska, to camp on their farm for four days.

They were joined by members of a remarkable coalition of ranchers and Native Americans who call themselves the Cowboy and Indian Alliance. People with different lives, different incomes, of different faiths, and even different politics discovered they shared a deeply spiritual bond: the conviction that the land beneath their feet, and the water that flowed through it, was sacred.

Helen Tanderup’s family built the farmhouse from components in a catalog in the 1920s. An old steel Aermotor windmill rises 75 feet above a well, broken but still spinning, long-since replaced by drilled well and electric pumps to bring water to the house. The Keystone XL pipeline would break through a line of cottonwood trees her father planted; and cut right through their cornfield just west of the house.

To avoid the house itself, the line would bend and run south through another line of cottonwoods, crossing a dirt road and cutting through miles more of fields before skirting Neligh itself. Just across that dirt road from the Tanderup farm, records indicate, is the Trail of Tears, the path Horinek’s great grandfather, and White Buffalo Girl and her parents, walked in 1877.

Art Tanderup is a retired schoolteacher, but he knows his ground. He grows his corn, beans and rye with a no-till method. “This ground here will not blow away when we have heavy winds,” he said. Unlike the North Dakota farmland that was flooded by 843,000 gallons of oil from a pipeline leak in late September, soils like Tanderup’s in the Elkhorn watershed have no clay base to trap a spill.
The old sandhills formation soils are mostly fine Thurman sands and gravel. Leaking oil and chemicals would head directly into the aquifer. “In North Dakota, with all their fancy equipment, they could not detect a quarter-inch leak. If that happened here, they would detect only after it turned up in the wells and irrigation systems,” he said.

The Keystone XL would go through four bends in one and one-half miles to skirt the Tanderup house. “Any time you bend a pipe, you thin out the walls and weaken it,” Tanderup said. “These pipes will have 1,500 pounds per square inch of pressure. They are far more apt to break and spill.”

At White Buffalo Girl’s gravesite, the link between distant history and current controversies was palpable “We all know when we lose a loved one that it hurts; to lose a child is probably the most painful thing you can go through,” said Horinek. He thanked the citizens of Neligh for caring for this grave, and he thanked the activists who were fighting the pipeline. “We are all connected to the land, and we are all connected to each other,” he said.

In a very strange way, all these folks on Tanderup’s land last weekend are connected: by roads, by the World Wide Web, by a pipeline, by a Trail of Tears, by a common bond to the water and land. The policy makers in Washington D.C., and the TransCanada Corporation in Alberta, have no idea what they are up against.

Sabin Russell is a freelance writer, visiting Nebraska. His work has been published in the San Francisco Chronicle and the New York Times.


No Keystone XL Blacksnake will Cross Lakota Lands

"Lakota are united with our relatives and allies up north. We must stop this kxl from entering the territory our ancestors loved, lived on for thousands of generations, and gave their greatest gift of all to defend, their lives. Our Creation stories teach us that this is our Home on Unci Maka, our homeland is part of our identity, we have our inherent birth right as Lakota Oyate. Our inherent birth right is a spiritual and human right, and we have treaty rights. We do not want kxl, we do not want tarsands in our lands, the tarsands must stay in the ground, the extraction and its aftermath is killing humans and all of life up there, and wasting precious water. The leaders of the world are looking at this, we need them to be good leaders and stand in the way of something bad coming toward us, all over the world, and here, in the big land, it is time for people to be clear to their leader. Now is a time when he can be a green revolutionary, and make decisions that can change the world.
Please take a moment to help get our words, thoughts, and prayers out to the world, all over Unci Maka, that Lakota People, and many other Red Nations people, we have painted our faces. Our allies up north have painted their faces. For sacred water, for Unci Maka, for our generations. As people of the earth, our coming generations have a right to sacred water, no policy, no corporation, no politics should be more important than that. Regional water shortages are befalling people all over the world, people are being displaced, the four legged, the winged nations are becoming endangered and extinct because the system in place honors a huge profit over the health of Unci Maka, prioritizes an unsustainable energy policy that is and that will continue to lead us closer to what is perhaps the most dangerous point in our lifetime, wars over war. We are in a time of prophecy, our collective action will be significant, with all the love in our hearts, we must all resist this destruction, and stand for sacred water and Unci Maka." -Owe Aku.

Please share far and wide, time is drawing near and we must be ready.

Honor the Earth, Idle No More and Defenders of the Land stand with the Lakota Nation, Owe Aku, Protect the Sacred, and all land defenders opposing Keystone XL.  We stand with our neighbors to honour the treaties, protect sacred water, and to defend the Indigenous ways of life.

Below is a statement from Honor the Earth that has been developed in collaboration with the Oglala Sioux Nation, Owe Aku, and Protect the Sacred.  Check the information links below and organize a vigil in your community in solidarity with the Lakota resistance to the Keystone XL Pipeline.
"The Oglala Lakota Nation has taken leadership by saying "NO" to the Keystone XL Pipeline. They have done what is right for the land, for their people, who, from grassroots organizers like Owe Aku and Protect the Sacred, have called on their leaders to stand and protect their sacred lands. And they have: KXL will NOT cross their treaty territory, which extends past the reservation boundaries. Their horses are ready. So are ours. We stand with the Lakota Nation, we stand on the side of protecting sacred water, we stand for Indigenous land-based lifeways which will NOT be corrupted by a hazardous, toxic pipeline. WE ALL NEED TO STAND WITH THEM.

On Friday, January 27th, the State Department issued its Environmental Impact Statement on the Keystone XL Pipeline. president Obama said that he won't approve the pipeline if it increases carbon emissions. The report was drafted in coordination with consultants who have worked for TransCanada -- the company seeking to build the pipeline. Jack Gerard, the head of the American Petroleum Institute, was briefed by "sources within the administration" on the timing and content of the report before its release, and was pleased to say that it will not impact the environment.
As Native Nations, we're ready to protect our homelands from this pipeline, and we need to SHORE UP OUR SUPPORT of organizations like Owe Aku and Protect the Sacred, who are on the ground organizing in the Lakota Nation.

We also need to put the pressure on Barack Obama to recognize that:

1) The Lakota Nation - a sovereign governmental body - has united its government and grassroots against the pipeline, and the United States needs to honor treaty rights by denying the pipeline.
2) There is direct conflict of interest in the report issued by the State Department -- the process is broken, and a new report which reflects the true environmental impact is needed.
3) This pipeline will, in fact, increase carbon emissions and cause grave and irreversible environmental harm globally. This pipeline would cause direct environmental harm -- and put the well-being of all who live in relationship with the Oglala Aquifer at risk.

4) In recognition of our responsibilities to protect Mother Earth, Native peoples will not allow this pipeline to come across our treaty areas. We will defend our lives, and our mother Earth, and we need Barack Obama to do the same.

On Monday night, all across the country, people will be gathering to mark this moment together at protest vigils organized by350.orgOil Change International, and others, where the night will be alight with our resolve to keep fighting. We need to show the media, big oil and the President that we, as Indigenous Peoples (especially from the Great Sioux Nation), the entire state of Nebraska, and the tens of thousands of American citizens that have signed up to put their bodies on the line using non violent civil disobedience in every state in the lower 48 and Alaska, First Nations, and allies in Canada, are mobilized and unafraid.

As Idle No More campaigner and friend Clayton Thomas-Muller said "Its time to light the fire in your hearts and at your one said this wouldn't end up being a ditch fight lets honour the trail blazers from Keystone XL south fight, time for some action and yes some of us may get arrested!"
Click here to look for an event near you, and sign up to host if there isn't one near you.
Click here to sign a petition to urge Obama to stop the Keystone XL.
Support Moccasins on the Ground to organize further grassroots resistance:
 Check out this video and support Honor the Earth!
Read more:
Keystone XL ‘black snake’ pipeline to face ‘epic’ opposition from Native American alliance
What did Big Oil Know, and When Did they Know it? "

Social Media Hashtags: #MoccasinsontheGround #HonourTheEarth #NoKXL

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