Tuesday, April 8, 2014

Cowboys and Indians

Reject and Protect Image 2 copy logod-01
The "Cowboy Indian Alliance" against the Keystone XL, and also known as Reject and Protecthas announced a change of date to Saturday, April 26th for the Washington D.C. National Mall action.

An unusual alliance - mostly South Dakota and Nebraskan farmers, ranchers, and Native American communities living along the proposed northern route for Keystone XL  - plan to ride into Washington D.C. on horseback April 22nd, set up tipis near the White House, and host events over several days publicizing the grave environmental and health issues associated with tar sands expansion.  Events also include a prayer ceremony in front of Vice President John Kerry's home.  (Vice President Kerry has reportedly been reviewing material on the pipeline.)

Actions will culminate in the Saturday, April 26th mass march to the White House to urge President Obama to reject the tar sands project at what is considered a critical decision-making juncture.   

Supporters are invited here at 350.org to participate.

You can also sign your support here.  

In the 2011 video below from filmmaker Ron Seifert, the Cowboy Indian Alliance is established as Oglala Lakota elder Alex White Plume shakes hands with rancher Paul Siemens in a show of solidarity against exploitation of Alberta's dirty tar sands.  Daryl Hannah & Sicangu Lakota Hereditary Chief John Spotted Tail look on.

Via Truthout, 
Many of those participating in the Cowboy Indian Alliance are fighting to defend land originally theirs under the Fort Laramie Treaty of 1851 and 1868; a legally binding agreement between the Lakota (Sioux) and the U.S. government that was to create the “Great Sioux Reservation.” The territory includes all of South Dakota west of the Missouri River, hunting grounds in Northern Nebraska (the location of the Ogallala Aquifer), North Dakota, Wyoming and Montana. The treaty stated that “no white person or persons shall be permitted to settle upon or occupy any portion of the [territory]; or without the consent of the Indians, first had and obtained, to pass through the same.”
That was before gold was discovered in the Black Hills in 1871. The Black Hills are the most sacred piece of land to the Lakota. It is where they believe life came from. In a Wall Street endeavor, mining companies disregarded the 1868 treaty and flooded into the area under U.S. government protection of General George Armstrong Custer and the 7th cavalry. The U.S. officially seized the Black Hills and bloodily split up the “Great Sioux Reservation” into six smaller reservations in 1877, culminating with the Wounded Knee Massacre. One hundred and fifty to 300 Lakota men, women and children were slaughtered by the 7th Cavalry.

Northwestern Photo Company, 
Library of Congress Prints and Photos Division
 "Burial of the dead after the massacre of Wounded Knee. U.S. Soldiers putting Indians in common grave; some corpses are frozen in different positions. South Dakota."

Battle of Wounded Knee, 1890
Site of Wounded Knee massacre referenced in Truthout report 

Map of Keystone XL Pipeline route

The Keystone route plows straight through treaty territory, and while it does not go directly into reservation land, it comes within a few feet, also threatening to pollute the Ogallala Aquifer, which supplies drinking water to millions of people. (Also see map below in relation to Keystone XL map route; via wikipedia, U.S. Geological Survey, "The High Plains Aquifer underlies an area of approximately 174,000 square miles (451,000 km²) that extends through parts of eight states. The aquifer is the principle source of water in one of the major agricultural areas of the United States.")  

The Rosebud Sioux of the Cowboy Indian Alliance are formally refusing to sign the federal government's imposed agreement that the government has met legally imposed consultation requirements.  10 tribal leaders walked out of a May 16th 2013 State Department meeting to clearly make the point that 'the gathering was not recognized as a valid consultation on a "nation to nation" level.'  Furthermore, they stated they would meet only with President Obama to discuss the pipeline.  

The following tribes were represented in the walk-out, and via the Great Plains Tribal Chairman's Association:
Southern Ponca
Pawnee Nation
Nez Perce Nation

The following Oceti Sakowin (Seven Council Fires People):
Sisseton-Wahpeton Oyate
Ihanktonwan Dakota (Yankton Sioux)
Rosebud Sioux Tribe
Oglala Sioux Tribe
Standing Rock Tribe
Lower Brule Sioux Tribe
Cheyenne River Sioux Tribe
Crow Creek Sioux Tribe
The State Department received a million public comments mostly against the pipeline, and by an April 2013 deadline that coincidentally coincided with Earth Day.  The EPA weighed in against the March 2013 environmental draft report "saying more study was needed of greenhouse gas emissions, the potential effect of spills, and the route through ecologically sensitive territory."

The Great Plains Tribal Chairman’s Association is comprised of 16 tribal chairmen, presidents and chairpersons in North Dakota, South Dakota and Nebraska "who have joined to defend treaty rights." In January 2013, leadership from the association along with other tribes signed the International Treaty to Protect the Sacred Against the Tar Sands

The Rosebud Sioux are heading the "Shield the People" campaign - Oyate Wahacanka Woecun - and are setting up further encampments along the proposed route to protest the pipeline.

More on Shield the People below, "Can A Tipi Stop A Pipeline?"

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