Indigenous Peoples and Human Rights

February 10, 2014

Blood Oil in North Dakota, Rights of Nature Tribunal in Ecuador

Blood Oil in North Dakota, Rights of Nature Tribunal in Ecuador

By Brenda Norrell

Photo by Pennie Opal Plant
Cree actress Tantoo Cardinal served as a judge at the Rights of Nature Ethics Tribunal in Ecuador in January on the case of hydraulic fracking in the United States. 

The Tribunal comes as Native Americans and First Nations are waging war against hydraulic fracking, tar sands mining and the oil and gas industry that is devastating American Indian and First Nations communities.
Urging for the case to go forward against the US for fracking, Tantoo Cardinal said of fracking, "They are shattering the bones of Mother Earth and she is creating earthquakes all over the place.”
Meanwhile in North Dakota, the Mandan, Hidatsa and Arikara have a new resolution aimed at suspending Chairman Tex Hall, alleging that Hall has illegally benefited from the oil and gas industry there. The resolution, prepared for a Business Council session slated for Thursday, comes as a murder investigation is underway. There is a rising movement by tribal members to protect the land, water and air from the widespread destruction of the oil and gas industry and the violence and crime of the "man camps" of the oil and gas industry.
Investigators are probing the murder of a business associate of Hall in Washington state, Douglas Carlile, 63, of Spokane, and the disappearance of another business associate in North Dakota, KC Clark. At the same time, investigators say an informant said Hall was also targeted for murder.
Investigators are probing a string of businesses that Tex Hall and business associate James Henrikson, now in police custody, were involved with in the oil and gas industry on land of the Three Affiliated Tribes, also known as Fort Berthold. 

The resolution states that Hall allegedly profited from a tribal payment for more than $588,000 for road watering work to one of the  companies, Blackstone Oil Field Services.
Meanwhile, Chairman Hall created his own personal company, Maheshu Energy, to financially benefit from the oil and gas industry on tribal land. While tribal members struggled to protect the environment, Hall pushed for oil and gas leasing on tribal land and argued before a Congressional committee in favor of fracking.
Besides widespread devastation to the land, air and water, the Three Affiliated Tribes became infested with crime as a result of the "man camps" of oil and gas workers. Responding to the media, Hall said he is cooperating with investigators in the murder investigations and denied any involvement with gangs.
In Ecuador, Native Americans and First Nations were both judges and expert witnesses offering testimony during the Rights of Nature Ethics Tribunal. The high profile cases included Chevron. The Tribunal efforts also focused on protection of the Amazon and Great Barrier Reef in Australia.
Tribunal Judge Tantoo Cardinal said, "There are people who can hear Mother Earth, our traditional people that live close to the lands, close to the water, they can hear her."
"There are people who can hear the rocks."
"People of ceremony, who know that language of spirit, they are the interpreters for what Mother Earth has to say, or what water has to say, to tell us."
"She does have language."
Tantoo described how people are abusive to their Mother, abusive to their people, abusive of power and position and completely irresponsible as they remove laws that protect the water and earth.
In Ecuador, Tom Goldtooth, director of the Indigenous Environmental Network, was a judge and Casey Camp, Ponca from Oklahoma, provided testimony. The Ecuador Tribunal follows the gathering in Cochabamba, Bolivia, at the Mother Earth and Climate Change Conference in 2010 which resulted in a Declaration for the Protection of Mother Earth and the Rights of Nature.
Listen to Tantoo Cardinal
Read more on Blood Oil and Tex Hall:

Copyright Brenda Norrell, for permission to repost

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