INDIAN CHIEFS WALK OUT OF MEETING WITH STATE DEPARTMENT, DENOUNCE kEYSTONE XL PLANS

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19 may 2013

[4C Note: For links in this article (apart from the excellent opinion piece referred to at the end), click on the original.]

Chiefs Declare Keystone XL Consultation Meeting Invalid, Walk Out on State Department Officials

ICTMN Staff, Indian Country Today Media Network, May 17 2013

Elders and chiefs of at least 10 sovereign nations walked out of a meeting with U.S. State Department officials in Rapid City, South Dakota, on Thursday May 16 in which the government was attempting to engage in tribal consultation over the Keystone XL pipeline.

Deeming the meeting “invalid,” leaders of the Great Plains Tribal Chairmen's Association—attendees included the Southern Ponca of Oklahoma, Pawnee Nation, Nez Perce Nation, Sisseton-Wahpeton Oyate, Ihanktonwan Dakota Yankton Sioux, Rosebud Sioux Tribe, Oglala Sioux Tribe, Standing Rock Tribe, Cheyenne River Sioux Tribe and Crow Creek Sioux Tribe—said they would meet only with President Barack Obama to discuss the pipeline.

The Great Plains Tribal Chairman’s Association is made up of the 16 tribal chairmen, presidents and chairpersons in North Dakota, South Dakota and Nebraska who have joined to defend treaty rights, according to the group. In January they along with other tribes signed the International Treaty to Protect the Sacred Against the Tar Sands. (Related: Tribal Members Sign Treaty Calling for an End to Alberta Oil Sands Development and Keystone XL)

Keystone XL would carry up to 800,000 barrels daily of viscous crude known as bitumen from the Alberta oil sands of Canada for 1,700 miles down to the Gulf of Mexico coast in Texas. Obama is slated to make a decision on the $7 billion project sometime this year, perhaps as early as the end of summer. (Related: U.S. Senate Endorses Keystone XL 62–37 in Symbolic, Non-Binding Vote)

The chiefs join the National Congress of American Indians (NCAI), which two weeks ago released its public comments on the pipeline’s draft environmental assessment report, recommending that the Obama administration reject the pipeline proposal from TransCanada if certain concerns could not be adequately addressed. (Related: Fill Gaps in Keystone XL Draft Environment Report or Reject Pipeline, NCAI Tells Obama Administration)

The state department received more than a million public comments by the April 22 deadline, which was coincidentally Earth Day, most of them against the project. (Related: Anti-Keystone XL Tribal Members Urge Fellow Natives to Comment on Environmental Impact Statement)

The government’s own Environmental Protection Agency has weighed in against the environmental draft report, which was released on March 1. On April 22 the EPA objected to the review, saying more study was needed of greenhouse gas emissions, the potential effect of spills, and the route through ecologically sensitive territory, the Washington Post reported. (Related: State Department Draft Environmental Report Says Keystone XL Effects on Both Climate Change and Oil Supply Would Be Minimal)

They contended that tribes had not been consulted as the report stated they had, and took issue with the report’s assessment that the pipeline would have little to no impact on climate change. (Related: Exaggerated Consultation Claims, Factual Errors in State Department's Keystone XL Environment Report Rankle Natives)

“The standard for consultation with indigenous nations is described as ‘government to government,’ and that standard must not be treated lightly,” said Jennifer Baker, a Denver-based attorney who works with the Great Plains tribes, to Native News Network after the chiefs’ walkout. “The duty to engage with tribes in this manner stems from treaties and the constitution, and it has been expanded upon through court decisions and executive orders.”

Consultation or no, the Native leaders who left the meeting issued a statement objecting on multiple grounds.

“On this historic day of May 16, 2013, ten sovereign Indigenous nations maintain that the proposed TransCanada/Keystone XL pipeline does not serve the national interest and in fact would be detrimental not only to the collected sovereigns but all future generations on planet earth. This morning the following sovereigns informed the Department of State Tribal Consultation effort at the Hilton Garden Inn in Rapid City, SD, that the gathering was not recognized as a valid consultation on a ‘nation to nation’ level,” they said.

The chiefs who walked out were the Southern Ponca, Pawnee Nation, Nez Perce Nation, and members of the Oceti Sakowin (Seven Council Fires People), including Sisseton-Wahpeton Oyate, Ihanktonwan Dakota (Yankton Sioux), Rosebud Sioux Tribe, Oglala Sioux Tribe, Standing Rock Tribe, Lower Brule Sioux Tribe, Cheyenne River Sioux Tribe and Crow Creek Sioux Tribe.

“Eventually all remaining tribal representatives and Tribal Historic Preservation Officers left the meeting at the direct urging of the grassroots organization Owe Aku,” the chiefs said in their statement. “Owe Aku, Moccasins on the Ground, and Protect the Sacred are preparing communities to resist the Keystone XL pipeline through Keystone Blockade Training.”

Related opinion piece: Keystone XL Equals Death
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Full Text of the Great Plains Tribal Chairmen's Association Statement Against the Keystone XL Pipeline

ICTMN Staff Indian Country Today Media Network May 17, 2013

On this historic day of May 16, 2013, ten sovereign Indigenous nations maintain that the proposed TransCanada/Keystone XL pipeline does not serve the national interest and in fact would be detrimental not only to the collected sovereigns but all future generations on planet earth. This morning the following sovereigns informed the Department of State Tribal Consultation effort at the Hilton Garden Inn in Rapid City, SD, that the gathering was not recognized as a valid consultation on a "nation to nation" level:

Southern Ponca
Pawnee Nation
Nez Perce Nation
And 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 Great Plains Tribal Chairmans Association supports this position, which is in solidarity with elected leaders, Treaty Councils and the grassroots community, and is guided by spiritual leaders. On Saturday, May 18, the Sacred Pipe Bundle of the Oceti Sakowin will be brought out to pray with the people to stop the KXL pipeline, and other tribal nation prayer circles will gather to do the same.

Pursuant to Executive Order 13175, the above sovereigns directed the DOS to invite President Obama to engage in "true Nation to Nation" consultation with them at the nearest date, at a designated location to be communicated by each of the above sovereigns. After delivering that message, the large contingent of tribal people walked out of the DOS meeting and asked the other tribal people present to support this effort and to leave the meeting. Eventually all remaining tribal representatives and Tribal Historic Preservation Officers left the meeting at the direct urging of the grassroots organization Owe Aku. Owe Aku, Moccasins on the Ground, and Protect the Sacred are preparing communities to resist the Keystone XL pipeline through Keystone Blockade Training.

This unprecedented unity of tribes against the desecration of Ina Maka (Mother Earth) was motivated by the signing on January 25, 2013, of the historic International Treaty to Protect the Sacred Against the Tar Sands. Signatories were the Pawnee Nation, the Ponca Nation, the Ihanktonwan Dakota and the Oglala Lakota. Since then ten First Nations Chiefs in Canada have signed the Treaty to protect themselves against tar sands development in Canada.

The above sovereigns notify President Obama to consult with each of them because of the following:

• The nations have had no direct role in identifying and evaluating cultural resources.
• The nations question the status of the programmatic agreement and how it may or may not be amended.
• The nations are deeply concerned about potential pipeline impacts on natural resources, especially our water: potential spills and leaks, groundwater and surface water contamination.
• The nations have no desire to contribute to climate change, to which the pipeline will directly contribute.
• The nations recognize that the pipeline will increase environmental injustice, disproportionately impacting native communities.
• The nations deplore the environmental impacts of tar sands mining being endured by tribes in Canada. The pipeline would service the tar sands extractive industry.
• The nations insist that their treaty rights be respected⎯the pipeline would violate them.
• The nations support an energy policy that promotes renewables and efficiency instead of one that features fossil fuels.
• The nations regard the consultation process as flawed in favor of corporate interests.

The sovereigns of these nations contend that it is not in America's interest to facilitate and contribute to environmental devastation on the scale caused by the extraction of tar sands in Canada. America would be better served by a comprehensive program to reduce its reliance on oil, and to invest in the development and deployment of sustainable energy technologies, such as electric vehicles that are charged using solar and wind power.

If the Keystone XL pipeline is allowed to be built, TransCanada, a Canadian corporation, would be occupying sacred treaty lands as reserved in the 1851 and 1868 Fort Laramie Treaties. It will be stopped by unified resistance.




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