The release, last Friday, of a State Department report concluding that the Keystone XL pipeline would not worsen global carbon pollution has mobilized environmentalists across the country. First Nations people, who would see the pipeline cross their land, have been among the leaders opposing Keystone XL. As activists prepared to attend vigils and protests across the country on Monday, the following statement was released by Honor the Earth, the Oglala Sioux Nation, Owe Aku and Protect the Sacred:
The Ogala 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 27, 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 by 350.org, Oil 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 nonviolent 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, "It's time to light the fire in your hearts and at your lodges…No one said this wouldn't end up being a last-ditch fight, let's honor the trail blazers from Keystone XL south fight, time for some action, and yes, some of us may get arrested!"
First published at Last Real Indians.