Comment is priceless – NATIVE AMERICAN PIPELINE RESISTANCE
November 01, 2019 by Extinction Rebellion
Here in the U.S., Native communities
continue to stand on the front lines of
the climate crisis. A couple weeks back, the Keystone pipeline leaked more than 383,000 gallons of oil onto our homelands, because as surely as pipelines carry oil, they end up spilling.
What timing. As federal regulators temporarily shut down Keystone because pipelines can’t be trusted, many of my relatives were gearing up to attend a public hearing this past Wednesday on whether the North Dakota Public Service Commission should allow a dramatic increase to the flow rate through the infamous Dakota Access pipeline (DAPL).
You remember DAPL. In 2016 and ‘17, you undoubtedly read stories about tribes, celebrities, veterans and environmentalists all joining together for the protests against it near the Standing Rock, the reservation where I was born and raised. Now, once again over our tribal objections, the pipeline’s operators want to increase its capacity – and its danger to Unci Maka (Grandmother Earth).
Based on a recommendation from the pipeline’s hired, militarized
security firm, North Dakota authorities arrested me at the protests, subsequently charging me with “trespassing” on my own tribe’s ancestral lands and starting a riot (which consisted of a small group of us standing in a prayer circle on an isolated hill). Those charges were later dropped.
This resistance is not just about us; it’s about everyone. Indigenous cultures protest because we believe all living things are related and must be respected. Recently, Swedish teen climate activist Greta Thunberg accepted our invitation to visit Lakota Country. She led – with my own 16-year-old daughter, Tokatawin – three days of climate action in the Dakotas. She said that KXL is “not morally defensible.”
‘Indigenous cultures protest because we believe all living things are related and must be respected.
Government is supposed to care for society. Instead, here in the U.S., from the White House on down, it often prioritizes profits over people — especially communities of colour. It’s so easy to focus on the things that divide us. It’s harder to change the way we live. It’s harder to stand and speak, in unity with those who may have wronged us or with whom we disagree. But that’s the solidarity of Standing Rock, which reminded us how local action can have great, global impact.
Chase Iron Eyes serves as lead counsel for the Lakota People’s Law Project, a subsidiary of 501(c)(3) law and policy organization the Romero Institute, and as Public Relations Director for Oglala Sioux Tribe President Julian Bear Runner. @ChaseIronEyes