Indigenous Peoples and Human Rights

November 6, 2015

OWE AKU: Grassroots Activism Kills Keystone XL Pipeline

President Obama rejects Keystone XL pipeline
OWE AKU: Years of Grassroots Activism Kills Keystone XL Pipeline

Images from Moccasins on the Ground, Owe Aku's educational and nonviolent direct action training project that, along with allies across the continent, helped defeat one of the world's largest corporations and two national governments in order to protect Mni Wakan, Sacredwater.

By Owe Aku International Justice Project

When Wioweya Najin Win, Debra White Plume, who is currently living without media or internet access on the Pine Ridge, was told about the announcement, she stated:

"Such great news!  Wopila to all of Earth's Army.  President Obama is standing in the way of something bad coming towards the people.  He put his MOCCASINS ON THE GROUND!  Our ancestors are with us and we are all so thankful for the protection of Sacredwater."

1.  The pipeline would not make a meaningful long term addition to our economy; this is not a job creator;
2.  The pipeline would not lower gas prices for american consumers;
3.  The pipeline would ship dirty crude oil through this country without adding to our national energy security.  The president implied that it would be hypocritical to approve the pipeline while making attempts to enhance clean energy solutions through sustainable policies.

Everyone recognizes that the current state of the american government is anything but stable and that a new right-wing, christian, republican government could reverse the decision.  However, this is still A SIGNIFICANT VICTORY.  Whoever comes now or in the future to challenge the security of the water we protect for future generations, will meet the same opposition that has defeated the pipeline today.    
This is recent testimony by Wioweya Najin Win (Debra White Plume, Director of Owe Aku Bring Back the Way) before the South Dakota Public Utilities Commission explaining the Lakota world view that leads to the organized strategies we employ to defend Unci Maka and Mni Wakan:July 19, 2015

South Dakota Public Utilities Commission
500 E. Capitol Ave.
Pierre, SD 57501

Wioweya Najin Win miye.  My English name is Debra White Plume and my address is PO Box 325, Manderson, SD 57756. I am commenting on docket number HP12-001 regarding the TransCanada, Inc. KXL Tarsands Pipeline for the July 26, 2015 Public Comment in South Dakota.

The Lakota worldview and the American worldview about land and water are different, as is our worldview about time and space. The American worldview through its institutions and policies and laws and regulations say that elected officials and appointed officials have the final decision on what happens in our shared space. To clarify this, by the word "our" I am referring to the Lakota and the Americans, and the elected/appointed officials and the rest of us. In the Lakota worldview, everyone has a say, a collective decision is made by consensus. There is no hierarchy of one person being more important than another. All people are important and have a right to their say.

In my view, the space and distance between where I live and where TransCanada, Inc. wants to put its KXL tarsands pipeline is too close. Although the place where I lay my head to rest at night, where I rise each morning to live a life I am thankful for, and the pipeline route through Mission, SD or Murdo, SD or Lower Brule, SD or Faith, SD may be hundreds of miles, but to me, that route is just right there. This whole area is my home.

The KXL proposed route you are considering would not only be insanely located over the Ogllala Aquifer, it would also recklessly cross many surface waters, including the Missouri River and the Cheyenne River. All of this is sacredwater, we say Mni Wicozani, through water there is life. Without water there is no life.

I will share some personal history with you. I received my fourth Lakota name along the banks of the Cheyenne River, named by Grover Horned Antelope. My song was sung by John Around Him, at a ceremony led by Rocky Afraid of Hawk, witnessed by Celane Not Help Him and many highly esteemed Lakota elders. My children, grandchildren, and great grandchildren received their names on the river banks. My marriage 36 years ago was blessed there.

Babies are born along the river banks, marriages are blessed there, names are received there. Give-aways are held along the river banks. Healing ceremonies and thanksgiving ceremonies are held along the river banks. People die there, along the riverbanks. Tens of thousands of these ceremonies as well as the Keeping and Releasing of the Spirit ceremonies, Girl to Womanhood ceremonies, many other ceremonies have been and are held along the river banks for our Lakota Nation for tens of thousands of people, for tens of thousands of generations. Water is part of all Lakota ceremonies, we honor and respect water.

Our Lakota Nation has lost many relatives over the generations fighting for water and land. Ancestors have died along the river banks fighting off the American pilgrims and settlers, the railroad and mining corporations, and USA Military encroaching on our territories. Our ancestors lived a beautiful life along the river banks, fought along the river banks, died along the riverbanks, and won their battles along the riverbanks. America recognized and acknowledged that this water and this land is Lakota territory as evidenced by the 1851 Ft Laramie Treaty. America and its citizen government violate this Treaty, an international law, every time they want to make money.

While the world has Human Rights, the international community has recognized and acknowledged that as indigenous peoples the Lakota Nation needs extra protection, as do all indigenous peoples, against corporations and governments that do not respect laws nor moral and humane judgements,  including Human Rights. Indigenous peoples are seen as expendable in the effort to desecrate lands and waters for personal and corporate profit so the United Nations adopted the Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples, including the United States, to provide guidance on respecting the Human Rights of all peoples. This action is also being violated and will be violated further by such government officials as yourselves if you approve the KXL tarsands pipeline.

America's citizen government violates its own laws, established to protect drinking water, to approve not only pipelines, but extractive industry like uranium mining and fracking. Individuals such as yourselves violate these laws and doctrines. You are not anonymous and must not try to hide behind your government titles. You live here and need this water as much as I do. South Dakota citizens and their organizations, all the Tribes in South Dakota, have said no to TransCanada's KXL tarsands pipeline. Now it is your turn to say no.

You are human beings who drink water, you cannot live without water. You, by some reason, have the authority this day to protect the sacredwater and all of life in this whole pathway across the big land, by deciding to say no to TransCanada, Inc. You can stop this destruction now before it begins, you can protect the lands and waters for those living now, and for the coming generations. 

The KXL can contaminate the ground water and surface waters with not only its vile tarsands oil, but the many lethal and deadly chemicals mixed with it, needed to liquify it at constant temperature of 150 degrees. The intense pressure required to slurry it thousands of miles from its beginning in Canada to its end at Texas is a deadly force in itself, strong enough to cut a man in half if he is standing nearby when it ruptures or explodes. Common sense tells an intelligent person that the KXL tarsands pipeline is a black snake with deadly venom that must be kept away from our lodges and our environment. Would you make the decision to allow a rattlesnake to live in your living room or the bedrooms of your daughters and sons? 

Do not let your decision be part of violating American and international and natural law by voting to approve the KXL tarsands pipeline. Do not open the door to this beautiful land and water to the black snake so it can enter our lodges. It will not care or discern that it is a Lakota standing there or a white man standing there. The white farmers and ranchers are just as much at risk as we Lakota are. Many have been violated through the government supported manipulation by TransCanada of eminent domain, their ranches and farms cut in half.  

I urge each of you to be a real man, a real human being, and stand against this threat to our water and our families. Do not be a coward or a puppet of the corporation and government leaders who receive money from the corporation to do their bidding. Be part of creating the good history that generations to come will look back on, and be happy that their grandfathers and grandmothers stood in the way of something bad coming toward  the people.

I urge you to see beyond the desire to be part of the backslapping good ole boy network of Fat Taker pleasing the appetite of insatiable greed. I urge you to see the good future of Lakota boys and girls, the good future of white rancher and farmer and city white boys and girls, whose future you hold in your hands.  You know there are loopholes you can find to say no to TransCanada. I urge you to be brave and visionary and not only stand apart from, but stand against, Fat Taker. 

Wioweya Najin Win, aka Debra White Plume
Owe Aku, Bring Back the Way
PO Box 325
Manderson, SD 57756

1 comment:

Earth Mum said...

Wopila - thank you for all you do and for all you've done, thank you