Indigenous Peoples and Human Rights

August 27, 2011

Indigenous Day of Action: Tar Sands White House: Sept 2, 2011

Photo copyright Stop the Tar Sands/Keepers of the Athabasca
Native American and Canadian First Nations To Take Part In Largest Act of Civil Disobedience to Stop Keystone XL Pipeline

By Indigenous Environmental Network
Censored News

Photo copyright Stop the Tar Sands/Harvey Scanie leads a group of walkers during the 13 km Healing Walk past Syncrude and the tailings ponds north Fort McMurray on Saturday, August 14 2010. Photo by Keepers of the Athabasca.

WASHINGTON DC -- The Indigenous Environmental Network is a national environmental justice and indigenous rights organization taking part in the largest act of civil disobedience in decades taking place at the White House in Washington DC from August 20 to September 3, 2011. Indigenous will join the protests on Wednesday at the Canadian Day of Action at the White House and Friday for the Indigenous Day of Action.

A group of walkers take part in the 13 km Healing Walk past Syncrude and the tailings ponds north of Fort McMurray on Saturday, August 14 2010. Photo copyright by Keepers of the Athabasca/Stop the Tar Sands
The purpose of these actions is to send a direct message to President Obama to deny approval of the 1,702 mile Keystone XL pipeline. The pipeline would be transporting pollution from the tar sands (also known as oilsands) of Canada to the United States by carrying 900,000 barrels per day of thick, corrosive, toxic, synthetic crude oil for refining in Texas and the Gulf States. If approved, the Keystone XL would lock the US into a dependency of energy intensive, hard-to-extract dirty oil and create a massive expansion of the world’s dirtiest and most environmentally destructive form of oil development currently taking place in northern Alberta Canada. These operations are already producing 1.5 million barrels per day and having horrendous environmental justice and human rights impacts on the way of life and health of the local Native communities of Cree, Dene and M├ętis.

The proposed pipeline threatens to pollute freshwater supplies in America’s agricultural heartland and grasslands with increased emissions in already-polluted communities of the Gulf Coast. The Keystone XL would cross Indian Country; States of Montana, South Dakota, Nebraska, Kansas, Oklahoma and Texas encompassing Indian-US treaty territories crossing water aquifers and rivers, grasslands, cultural sites and ecological sensitive areas. Leaks and spills are common occurrences from such pipelines that could result in disproportionate impact to Native Nations and thousands of tribal members. A spill from the Keystone XL poses an even greater threat, given that the pipeline would run directly through the Ogallala aquifer, which supplies one-third of our nation’s ground water used for irrigation, and drinking water to 2 million citizens.

The Indigenous Environmental Network is bringing tribal governmental and grassroots leaders from US and Canada, directly impacted by the proposed pipeline and the tar sands oil operations, to say “NO KEYSTONE XL PIPELINE” to President Obama. This Indigenous Day of Action on September 2, 2011, at the gates of the White House will express the solidarity of Native Nations, standing with concerned citizens, workers, farmers, ranchers, unions, youth and a coalition of environmental groups from across the continent, in peaceful protest to protect Mother Earth and demand Obama respect the treaty rights and survival of Native Nations of the US and Canada.

“Nature is speaking, but Obama is not listening. The Keystone XL pipeline is a 1,700 mile fuse of the world’s largest carbon bomb. The Canadian tar sands, the proposed Keystone XL and all the other current and proposed pipelines are weapons of mass destruction leading the path to triggering the final overheating of Mother Earth”, says Tom BK Goldtooth, Executive Director of the Indigenous Environmental Network. “President Obama made promises to Native Nations and here is an opportunity for him to honor those promises and be a man of conscious by standing up to corporate power and say NO to the Keystone XL pipeline.”

A barrel of tar sands oil emits up to three times as much climate-disrupting gas as conventional oil. Building Keystone XL would be the greenhouse gas equivalent of adding roughly 6.5 million passenger vehicles to the road, or constructing 12 new coal-fired power plants.

“IEN is putting out a national call for ACTION and Solidarity on September 2nd. Even if your homes won’t be crossed by this pipeline, we are raising the consciousness of America to reevaluate its relationship to Mother Earth that would be ruined by the intensity of environmental devastation and of greenhouse gases created by the enormous tar sands oil infrastructure crossing North America. It’s like a giant spider web crossing our Turtle Island”, added Goldtooth.

National Native organizations such as the National Congress of American Indians, the oldest and largest Native organization representing Native Nations are calling for a moratorium and better management practices on expanded tar sands development and opposition to the Keystone XL pipeline. NCAI requests the U.S. government to take aggressive measures to work towards sustainable energy solutions that include clean alternative energy and improving energy efficiency.

The IEN delegation will arrive in DC on August 30th and be participating in the August 31st Canadian Day of Action and staying until the Indigenous Day of Action on September 2nd.

For more information, please contact:
Marty Cobenais IEN Pipeline Campaigner cell: (218) 760 0284 email:
Clayton Thomas-Muller IEN Tar Sands Campaigner cell: (613) 297 7515 email:
Tom Goldtooth IEN Executive Director cell: (218) 760 0442 email:
Kandi  Mosset IEN Tribal Campus Climate Campaigner cell: (701) 214 1389 email:
Or visit


Monday, Aug 29: People of Faith & Dr. James Hansen
On Monday, ministers and rabbis will join other faith leaders to speak out agains the Keystone XL pipeline and call on President Obama to act as a steward for the Earth. Spokespeople will include some of the leading faith voices on environmental protection. NASA scientist Dr. James Hansen, perhaps the world’s top climatologist, will also take part in the action.
Tuesday, Aug 30: Sit-in Continues
Wednesday, Aug 31: Appalachia Residents
Resource extraction has taken its toll on the people of Appalachia, where mountain-top removal coal mining has devastated over a million acres of land. Residents from Appalachia will come take part in the sit-in and connect the destruction of Appalachia with the destruction taking place in Alberta due to the tar sands.
Thursday, Sep 1: Landowner Tour Arrives in DC / “Fracktivists” / Canadian Spokespeople
Beginning on August 20, landowners from along the pipeline route will be leading a tour across America to raise awareness about the dangers of the Keystone XL pipeline. For more information on the tour click here. On Aug 30, the tour will arrive in DC and act as lead spokespeople for the sit-in.
The tour participants will be joined by a large delegation of anti-fracking activists led by Oscar-nominated director Josh Fox (GASLAND).
Friday, Sep 2: Indigenous Leaders
Indigenous peoples have born the brunt of resource extraction for generations and are on the front-lines of the tar sands expansion across Alberta. Indigenous elders from Canada and the US will act as the lead spokespeople for the sit-in on August 1st.
Saturday, Sep 3: Final Day
On the final day of the sit-in, over a thousand people are expected to join a rally at Lafayette Square Park to take part in a massive public art piece that will create an enduring image to commemorate the two-week sit-in and inspire future protests to stop the Keystone XL and other fossil-fuel projects.

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