This post if from Wednesday, but it still contains very important info including a great interview on the legal history. Please see the original link at: https://goodmenproject.com/featured-content/in-violation-of-international-treaty-law-federal-government-evicting-standing-rock-this-afternoon-wcz/
While America and its media outlets were focused on the Debate last night, the US Court of Appeals denied Standing Rock its injunction on the Dakota Access Pipeline.
On September 2, 2016, the tribe had filed numerous sacred sites, graves, and other important cultural areas that are protected by federal law and which were along the proposed pipeline route in Cannon Ball, North Dakota. Receiving cultural compliance after archaeological and ethnographical surveys is standard procedure for any and all construction projects in the United States. However, Energy Transfer claimed to have completed these surveys of Lakota land without actually consulting Lakota experts on what their sacred sites look like or where they are located. When the tribe was finally able to survey the area, experts immediately identified dozens of locations and filed for an injunction.
On September 3, 2016, a Saturday morning on Labor Day weekend, Energy Transfer skipped over 13 miles of planned construction in order to destroy the identified sites before the courts could review the case. This led to the first confrontation between unarmed Protectors and hired personnel. The energy company claimed Standing Rock tribal members and their allies were trespassing on treaty land; Protectors argued their inherent rights to protecting such sites, especially when the company was not allowed to proceed with a pending injunction. The injunction was temporarily granted.
Protectors kept filing into the Sacred Stone Campground, ready each day for the destruction to continue. A number of non-violence trainings were held to help Protectors keep the spirit of the movement intact. Then, last night on October 9, 2016, the US Court of Appeals denied Standing Rock the injunction — on a Sunday night while the world was watching the Presidential Debate.
Shailene Woodley, who has been active since the Standing Rock youth ran over 2,000 miles to hand-deliver a petition to DC, arrived yet again to the front lines in Cannon Ball.
Protectors were ready at the front lines as militarized riot police arrived on the scene. Woodley kept her phone recording for about two hours this morning to make a video documenting the encounter. In the video, you can hear discussions about an accident on Highway 1806 that the police were blaming the #NoDAPL people for causing. The Protectors peacefully prayed, danced, and chanted until they were asked to disperse.
When Woodley returned to her RV on Highway 1806, she found it completely surrounded by police officers. You can hear her try to reason with them, stating that she left as asked. They accuse her of trespassing and she asks why she is being targeted? Is it because she had, at that moment, over 40K live views on her video? She handed the camera to her mother as the police proceeded to arrest her.
Woodley is not the only person who has been arrested in this lengthy defense of treaty land and tribal rights. She will also be far from the last. Please share this atrocity on social media using the hashtag #NoDAPL. This battle is far from over, and we need the world’s support.
Other ways to support include calling entities like the Army Corps of Engineers and announcing your position on the #NoDAPL case. As winter approaches in North Dakota, the Sacred Stone Camp is in need of supplies – so also consider donating.
We need to get this trending immediately, especially on #IndigenousPeoplesDay. Especially when neither Trump nor Clinton has made one mention of indigenous peoples in their debates. Share the news. Use the hashtag. Help us end this silence now.
In fact, it’s well past time.
Although I hold tribal membership in a different community, I was drawn last summer to work for the Navajo Nation government by its impressive example of tribal sovereignty in action. Not many tribal communities can brag they have their own Environmental Protection Agency, Department of Agriculture, etc. Not every indigenous person can point out the window to a traditional plant or a sacred landmark. (My own tribe suffered both relocation and the Dawes Allotment Act.) Because of Navajo leadership’s ability to negotiate at Bosque Redondo, these are things the Navajo people have never lost and that they must never forget. The Navajo Nation has a powerful voice, so long as it chooses to speak.
I have heard Navajo leadership use this voice. It is loud, and it can be condemning. Think: Gold King Mine spill. Or: Delegate Crotty’s passionate denouncement against Donald “Drumpf”. However, when it comes to the environmental threats caused by extractive industries on tribal lands, whether on Navajo Nation or elsewhere, I hear relative silence.
And correct me if I’m wrong. I would love to be wrong on this.
It’s a sad reality that the modern Navajo government structure was essentially developed by the Federal Government around 1922 to pass off the rights to sign oil leases. Even the modern Federal Government is, shall we say, uncomfortably close to the lucrative extractive industries that have an incredible knack for getting away with compliance lapses and environmental devastation.
When, on November 6, 2015, President Obama rejected Phase 4 of the Keystone XL pipeline, the Lakota and their many allies celebrated this decision. It would save the Black Hills, a sacred site, from destruction. It would save the Ogallala Aquifer, the world’s largest source of underground freshwater, from contamination. It seemed like the message finally got across…except now the Dakota Access Pipeline (DAPL) is threatening the Plains yet again.
Not only will this proposed DAPL, constructed by a private energy company, also cross the vital Ogallala Aquifer, it will also cross the Missouri and Cannon Ball Rivers half of a mile away from the Standing Rock Sioux Reservation. In an immediate response, a campaign called #RezpectOurWater was launched, arguing that a leak in this line could destroy local water sources and make both people and animals sick. The youth in the campaign ask, “If it was your family at risk, would you be okay with it?” One girl states, “I guess they don’t think we’re that important.”
Do you remember how the Gold King Mine spill felt? How it still feels?
I have grown up being told by the elders around me: “The 3rd World War won’t be over land, or trade, or even religion. It will be over water.” As the Lakota say, “Mni wiconi.” Water is sacred.
I spent 2 years working for “big oil” as an Engineer. How I got there was a kind of sick irony. My undergraduate degree specialized in Environmental Engineering, yet, by the time I graduated, the “alternative energy” sector had transformed into the fracking industry. In that short timeframe, I experienced enough emergency response spills to know how I feel about this industry.
I would spend 12-hour shifts, day after day, holding air monitoring devices near the heads of migrant workers as they attempted to salvage spilled oil from contaminated streams in nature reserves. I carried empty water bottles to collect dead salamanders I spotted for the biology counts. (I used to catch these little guys in the woods at home. By 2014, I had seen more dead than living salamanders in my life.) I have also endured the misogyny of laborers while performing oversight on well pads. I suspect these man camps in Indian Country are responsible for the increase of rape and other violence against indigenous women.
Sure, an engineering job in the oil industry could make you rich. But what good is money when we’ve destroyed our collective home? The most finite of resources? Yet it’s not just the oil spills that are a concern. It’s also the idea of burning fossil fuels. The incredible impact humans have made to the health of our planet in just my short lifetime.
The theory of climate change is not a joke. There is a pure science behind it, just like the theory of gravity. We all feel the theory of gravity; it makes it easy to believe. But not all of us feel the theory of climate change to the same degree.
The whole concept is rooted in emissions. In fact, hozho is at the heart of this idea. Most people can probably understand the need for trees. Trees are the figurative lungs of our planet as they take all of the carbons dioxide we exhale and transform it into the oxygen we inhale. We need each other. It’s a beautiful balance. But, as we change the oxygen-breathing-organism-to-plant ratio, that’s similar to sitting in your garage with your car running. Likewise, as we change the chemical composition of the atmosphere through increased carbon emissions, we change how energy such as light and heat lingers in our air. We see these effects in everything, from the intensity of storms, to the melting of glaciers, to even the inability of calcium carbonate to precipitate into the ocean for coral and fish to build their skeletons.
Everything is interconnected.
I’m going back to graduate school this fall to study energy technology because I believe in the urgency of reducing these emissions. In fact, I was recently selected as a U.S. Delegate to travel with SustainUs for COP22 this November. We will be participating in the United Nations Climate Change Conference to lobby for a change in global policy. While I might feel only somewhat impacted by climate change from my home in Window Rock, I realize I have the privilege to influence change for those hit the hardest. There are people in “critical” countries and tribal communities that will literally lose their communities in the next few decades if we don’t come together as a Five Fingered family and make a change.
Last year’s COP21 delegation launched the campaign #ZeroBy2050, demanding leaders to adopt policy that would phase out emission-spouting industries with alternative solutions. The year 2050 was selected because, if the average temperature of the planet rises any more than 2C (which it is projected to reach by that year), vulnerable countries will be deluged by a rising sea. Entire islands, homes, cultures.
At UNITY this February, I sat on stage for a panel discussion and watched my Inupiaq friend, Teressa Baldwin, passionately describe her Arctic Circle culture. Then she burst into tears as she explained her traditional village would be completely underwater by the time she is a grandmother. The next morning, she left for Russia to strategize with other leaders from affected Arctic Circle communities.
We live in a global community. We must hold every person accountable for how they impact each other and our resources. And we absolutely must stand in solidarity with these entire communities who are at the immediate risk of losing everything on account of our silence, our turned blind eye.
How would you feel if someone was blowing secondhand smoke on your child? Would you ask them to stop? Or would you pretend each time not to see it, and then to not acknowledge the child’s subsequent struggle with asthma? The child is our future generations. The smoker is the fossil fuel industry, and that industry is a chain smoker determined to never kick the habit.
In order to reach this emissions goal, we must already be in the energy transition. Creating green jobs, setting new emissions standards, holding Big Oil accountable. Taking the hands of both tribal and federal leaders out of the pockets of these industries. We know this, and yet oil, gas, and coal companies have already laid claim on deposits representing 2,795 gigatons of carbon. To meet the 2C mark by 2050, no more than 565 gigatons can be developed between 2011 and 2049. 2,795 is five times this limit. Think of that. Then think of these proposed pipelines that are meant to slice and dice Indian Country, traveling thousands of miles over freshwater reserves and sacred sites.
Navajo Nation leadership, this is your chance. If you voiced solidarity with the Standing Rock Sioux, if you committed to this fossil fuel phaseout, if you began sincerely investing in green jobs… Not only would the Navajo Nation become a leader in what tribal sovereignty means today, but it would also set an example for the entire world.
The Navajo Nation has such a potential to be a powerful voice and a world leader. I just hope we all make the right decision and choose Solidarity over Oil Prosperity.
While the country is busy talking about a Kentucky Fried Rat and making memes of Rachael Dolezal’s habitual blackface, another sort of alarm and cultural appropriation is flaring up in the Black Hills. Yes, the sacred Black Hills, a place under constant threat for its resources since 1874. This time the Lakota are fighting off a different kind of enemy: The Rainbow Family of Living Light.
First, a short lesson on the Black Hills.
In 1776, the same year the United States formed back on the eastern seaboard, the Lakota conquered the Cheyenne and took over the Black Hills territory. They called the hills Ȟe Sápa, “Black Hills” being a literal translation of Pahá Sápa for the black appearance the isolated mountain range has from a distance on account of the trees that cover them. These hills extend from the approximate areas of western South Dakota into Wyoming in the heart of Indian Country. They have become a central part to the culture of the Lakota people.
In 1868, nearly 100 years after the Lakota secured the Black Hills territory, the US government signed the Fort Laramie Treat of 1868. This treaty exempts the Black Hills from ever being settled by whites (well, non-Indians). However, in 1874, after George Armstrong Custer’s Black Hills Expedition, European Americans swept into the area in a gold rush after having discovered gold there. The US government’s response? Oh, forget the treaty, there’s gold! Lakota people, you will now be relocated.
The Lakota have fought for decades to uphold the treaty that gives them the rights to their sacred territories. But history repeats itself. They have been currently battling against the Keystone XL Pipeline that threatens to tear through their hills and pollute their territories beyond the pollution already caused by tourism, mining, and the lumber industry that has taken over these parts. How is any of this legal, you might ask? Well, quite frankly, it’s not.
Like most of the issues (especially environmental) that we have in Indian Country. The US Government has no honor when it comes to upholding international treaties (and tribes are sovereign nations, so that is exactly what these treaties are). Furthermore, the government ended its treaty making and refuses to resume it. Congress ended treaty-making with tribes in 1871, despite their sovereignty allegedly continuing to be acknowledged. The last treaty made was with the Nez Perce and was broken just a few years later, leading to the Nez Perce War. But enough about treaties. Let’s move on with the new enemy threatening to invade the Black Hills.
So now, who is this Rainbow Family?
People are allowed to be free and believe what they would like to believe. However, cultural appropriation is where Freedom of Speech has its limitations. The Rainbow Family of Living Light is an example of where this freedom becomes harmful, disrespectful, and out of line. To sum it up quickly, I would describe and generalize this self-proclaimed “tribe” as being a cult-like group of “free”, “loose”, and often marijuana-smoking non-Indians/Pretendians playing at “being Indian”. Sadly, the first time I became introduced to this group was at an actual Native gathering. (Even in Urban Indian communities, you have to be weary of the “Indians” and the “Elders” who try to lure you into faux-Indian groups, customs, and ways.)
Wikipedia defines these people as a “loosely affiliated group of individuals committed to principles of non-violence and egalitarianism” who “put on peaceable assemblies/free speech events known as Rainbow Gatherings”. According to therainbowfamilytribe.tribe.net, their beliefs are more than just this: “We also believe that Peace and Love are a great thing, and there isn’t enough of that in this world. Many of our traditions are based on Native American traditions, and we have a strong orientation to take care of the Earth. We gather in the National Forests yearly to pray for peace on this planet.”
But how does one base their traditions on “Native American traditions” when we are so diverse…and when “outsiders” aren’t exactly on the “inside”? That’s just it: they don’t. They bastardize what they think is our “tradition”. Yes, cultural appropriation.
If you look at photos from the gatherings, you will see a lot of naked people covered in mud, dancing, singing, doing whatever – and also smoking an enormous pipe/bong of what is most certainly marijuana. Internationally, even, these people gather. You will see photos of cult-like circles upon circles, usually with a Plains-style tipi in the background.
But there are more consequences than just cultural appropriation; there are also financial problems. The Forest Service Incident Management team costs federal taxpayers considerable amounts of money, allegedly because they must monitor these gatherings and the Rainbow Family refuses to pay what they owe for the permits to operate in these National Forest Lands. The Burning Man festival is not connected to these gatherings, but attendees at that festival are charged as much as a few hundred dollars to buy a ticket to attend – a cost that goes directly to securing the $750,000 permit for operating in the Black Rock Desert of Nevada each year. That is the same permit that the Rainbow Family refuses to acknowledge and pay, according to sources I have found.
The environmental impact of these gatherings is often great, including unpaid medical bills and local animal control agency costs for treating dogs in attendance. The Rainbow Family does pick up trash after events, but this does not include open latrine trenches, compost piles, fire pits, and other significant damage that occurs from their large, rambunctious occupation of protected lands.
Ironically, there were also three non-fatal stabbings in a 2014 Colorado gathering and one fatal shooting in a 2015 Florida gathering. Yeah, “non-violent”.
And what does this have to do with the Black Hills? You probably guessed it by now. Finally, here’s what’s been going on:
The Rainbow Family wants to gather at the Black Hills.
Yeah, you read that right. The culture appropriating semi-Pretendian tribe with recent violence and historic environmental damage wants to freely occupy the sacred and protected lands of the Lakota people.
Needless to say, the Lakota have said No. Online groups have been formed to gather supporters and petitions have been made because the Rainbow Family doesn’t seem to get the picture. They argue they have Freedom of Speech rights. On cantetenza.wordpress.com, a letter was shared which expressed the seriousness of the Lakota people’s refusal to allow the Rainbow Gathering to come. This is the Lakota’s issue notice of complaint that denies the Rainbow Family entry to the Black Hills:
The gathering may have well over 20,000 people, so this unwanted trespassing will certainly risk desecration of holy lands and interruption of Lakota ceremonial practices.
Yet, these “peaceful” people will not listen.
Instead, they have responded with lies of being Indian shamans, and some have even given death threats to Oglala Lakota Lance Brown Eyes and others who have spoken out. Don’t believe me? Watch it for yourself: https://redpowermedia.wordpress.com/2015/06/17/rainbow-family-of-light-member-threatens-to-kill-native-americans-video/
Other comments have been received through various boards, including this person’s response to a Native trying to reason with him:
The bottom line is, these people have no right entering and desecrating this territory. This goes beyond just their typical cultural appropriation. They are not welcome, they should not be granted access, but then again neither should the Keystone XL Pipeline. The Lakota deserve respect for their wishes of keeping their land sacred and unharmed.
If you wish to support as an ally, Cante Tenza asks to write or call to these people:
U.S. Forest Service Black Hills director Craig Bobzien phone (605) 673-9200, fax: (605) 673-9350, email to firstname.lastname@example.org
As we become more and more disconnected with our foods, we are also more and more disconnected with our world and our culture.
I can remember my storytelling grandma taking me for walks on trails through the woods where she would point out the native plants and the animals. We would go home to her gardens that were full of native Pennsylvanian perennials. We’d pick lovage and other vegetables from the salad garden, then rush outside after dinner with some sun tea to watch the 8-o’clock Bloom Primrose open from the gazebo.
Her favorite flower was the trillium, so each April the woods remind me of her more than usual. Every time a bird flies hardly in sight overhead and I don’t recognize his flight pattern or song, I’m frustrated because I’m sure she’s told me his identity before and that she’d tell me again if she were here. She’s been gone almost 8 years already and I wish I’d remembered things better when I was younger. I often wonder how much wisdom is in 8 years, the ones I didn’t get.
Feeling that separation in time makes me really appreciate the 16 years I did get, even the ones I can’t remember at all. It’s 16 more years than a lot of children ever get with their grandparents, learning from the wisest, being shown the same things that their great-great-grandparents had shown their grandparents. I might feel inadequate and incomplete, but I’m a lot fuller than most – and that saddens me.
How many kids never really see their grandparents or their parents? How many kids learn all of their lessons from Dora the Explorer and other TV shows? While my grandma told me tales about the animals that taught me lessons about how to treat others, children are learning their lessons from cartoons and video games and not even going outside. My only exception to not being outside was reading, but even then I would often climb into a tree with a bag of birdseed and sometimes fall asleep with a book on a limb.
I remember when grandma taught me how to plant a seed. It went something like this: “First, dig a little hole. Gently. Enough for part of your finger. Now, drop the seed to the bottom. Give him a little drink, but not too much – just some encouragement. Add a little love, maybe a kiss, and pat the dirt back on softly and water again.” But she especially showed me how to find things that were already growing, and we would observe the patterns of the animals in the woods as they used their own techniques to harvest. I particularly loved sitting in the woods during the winter for this reason; I could see through the bare trees so clearly, the red berries standing out against the snow, ruffled birds landing on dusted branches, and mouse tracks giving away all of their secret hideouts on the ground.
The Potawatomi and Chippewa used to watched these mouse tracks, too. Rodent kinds store nuts in the ground where they remain when the weather has stripped most of the harvest from the woods. The people knew this and, instead of spending exhausting hours harvesting for themselves, they would find the caches and take some of the nut reserves instead. My favorite example of cache raiding is the Lakota-prairie vole thievery/symbiosis: Prairie voles (mice, as they called them) would hide hog nut (“mouse bean”) seeds in similar caches. Before modern agricultural techniques and dams raped the Plains states and deterred biodiversity of the ecosystems, Lakota women used to take sticks to poke at these caches and steal from them. But they didn’t just take, take, take. This is one of my favorites — they would leave gifts of other things, like animal fat or berries in exchange for taking some of the seeds for their own uses…and they would sing a song. (‘You have helped sustain my children during this coming winter, and we will not let your children go hungry.’)
And now we have McDonald’s. And now we take as we need and don’t think about the future. Now we have separated ourselves and forgotten that everything is a web. We have forgotten that, although one practice may mean a big harvest this year and for ten years, in one hundred years it may not. We have forgotten that bad omens aren’t just omens, that less trilliums blooming in April and more birds choosing to not overwinter in the snow are signs because they mean the world is sicker than it was the year before. And this sickness is only continued when our next generation won’t have any way to relate to those stories about the raven not sharing his box of light with the world because all he cared about was himself, or about the whole world emerging from the earth – symbolic of the planet’s importance and the need for reemergence and rejuvenation every spring. The more artificial this world becomes, the less biodiverse it will be, and there will no longer be prairie voles to sing songs to or cares and concerns about his children.