August 2020

Indigenous Peoples and Human Rights

Friday, November 6, 2015

Native Americans Defenders Surge: Oak Flat Lives as Keystone XL Dies

Native Americans Defenders Surge: Oak Flat Lives as Keystone XL Dies
By Brenda Norrell
Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders introduced a bill into the Senate on Thursday to undo the assault on Apaches ceremonial grounds of Oak Flat. The assault was earlier spearheaded by Arizona Sen. John McCain, targeting this sacred land with a massive copper mine.
Today, Native Americans are celebrating further as President Obama rejects the Keystone XL pipeline.
With their backdoor deals, the wealthy in Congress and the oil and gas industry have placed the financial burden of defending Mother Earth on Native American grassroots land defenders, often with little means.
Wendsler Nosie, Sr., San Carlos Apache Tribe Councilman and Member of the Apache Stronghold, applauded the introduction of the Senate companion bill to repeal the Land Exchange that would turn Apache ceremonial land into a massive copper mine for Resolution Copper.
Nosie said, “The Senate introduction is welcome news to residents of Arizona, Indian country, the United States, and the world. The bill shines light on the deceit used to enact the Land Exchange. As true leaders of this Country, the people have invested their hopes, dreams, and spirit into honest and transparent decision making for the good of all people. We must not fear to undo a wrong to make it right. For when it comes to the future of our children, this shouldn’t be difficult to do.” (Read the full statement:
Now, following the long fight to protect their aquifer from the threat of the dirty tarsands Keystone XL pipeline, Lakotas are celebrating as President Obama just announced rejection of the tarsands pipeline from Canada.
Wioweya Najin Win, Debra White Plume, said, "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 Sacred water."
During the long pipeline battle, White Plume said, “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.”
Read the full statement from Owe Aku International Justice Project:

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

Yaqui water rights defender and leaders to speak in Tucson

Mario Luna, Vicam Yaqui water rights spokesman,
falsely imprisoned for one year in Sonora, Mexico, and recently released.
Vicam Yaqui Water Rights Forum, Sonora, Mexico
Photo by Brenda Norrell, Censored News


On Saturday, Nov. 21, 2015, the  Rio  Yaqui Community Forum  will be at  the  Pascua  Yaqui Nation Tribal  Chambers, 7474 S  Camino  de Oeste  from  10 am to  6 pmMario  will share  his  experience of  his  incarceration, kovanaos  will  share their concerns and  how  they  are dealing  with  community issues.  They  will  share  the  victory court case concerning  the  water  issue.
Join  us. Come  and  meet Mario  Luna  Romero and participate  in  the  Yaqui community forum. Come  and  listen  to  the  Kovanaos -  support  our  Yaqui  Relatives from  Sonora, Mexico.
We  need  volunteers  to  help out. -- Jose Matus

By Jose Matus, Yaqui
Indigenous Alliance Without Borders
TUCSON, Arizona -- Mario  Luna  Romero  and  the  Rio  Yaqui  Traditional  Leaders  will  be  coming  to Tucson to share, report and  talk  about  their  struggle  for  Yaqui  Water  Rights: The  Vicam  Water  Blockade. 

A  struggle is  currently  being  fought  by  the  Yoeme  Community  and  tribal  leadership  in  Sonora,  Mexico, where a  blockade  has  been  held  by  communities  in  Vicam, Rio  Yaqui, Sonora,  and Mexico  since 2013.

Join  us  discuss  the  struggle of  the  Rio  Yaqui  community to  protect  their  water  rights  and  defend their  way  of life.  Come  and  meet  Mario  Luna  Romero and  the  Kovanao, come  and show your  support.

Help host the Yaqui delegation by contacting Jose Matus:

For two years, traditional Vicam Yaqui in Sonora, Mexico, have blockaded the highway through their land to defend their water rights. Mexico built an aqueduct, the Independence Aqueduct, to steal their water from Rio Yaqui for the city of Hermosillo. On the highway, the buses and trucks, many bound from the US from the busy coastal agricultural region, were intermittently let pass after long delays.
Mexico responded by abducting, and illegally imprisoning for one year, two of the Vicam Yaqui water rights spokesmen, Mario Luna Romero and Fernando Jimenez Gutierrez. They were recently released. -- Censored News

WECAN: Indigenous Women Climate Events at Paris Climate Summit

Women Leading Solutions on the Frontlines of Climate Change
Dear Women,
Thank you to everyone who joined the COP21 Update & Organizing Call yesterday. Below please find important notes and links from the call, meant to help you engage with the women's movement for climate justice at COP21 climate negotiations and beyond.
5 November, 2015
WECAN International COP21 Update & Organizing Call Notes
Call Topics:
  • Resources on women & climate justice 
  • Action Points to get involved in COP21 climate negotiations where ever you are located
  • Opportunities & event for allies in Paris this December
  • WECAN International's action & events in Paris during COP21
  • Report back on the Global Women's Climate Justice Day of Action 
Background Materials:
  • Updated Release: Women's Climate Action Agenda:  
    • WECAN will use the Action Agenda as the core of our advocacy work during COP21 and will continue efforts to distribute it to world governments and movement leaders.
    • Update released last week with two new chapters; 'Health and Climate' & 'Trade & Climate Change'
    • Download and share widely!
  • Women's Climate Declaration - 
    • 10 million plus signatures & counting collected as part of the 'Movement to Action Campaign' with Tcktcktck & 30 partner orgs
    • Available in 5 languages to read/sign/share
    • Signatures to be delivered at COP21 climate negotiations! Please support us as we take action to get many more signatures throughout November! (Signature collection and advocacy with the Declaration will also continue after COP)
    • There are key demands in the Declaration including: immediately keeping 80% fossil fuels in the ground, reforestation, financing a just transition to 100% renewable energy, a climate agreement that stays below 1.5 degrees, respecting Indigenous rights, rights of nature, gender equality and gender responsive climate policies. 
Ways to get involved with COP21 even if you are not in Paris
  • Sign the appeal to COP21 negotiators on gender & climate
    • Sent out by the French High Council for Gender equality following AN event held in France on October 16th (Les femmes s'engagent pour le climat) which launched an appeal to negotiators to reflect gender in the Paris outcome. 
    • French language information and portal for signatures:             
    • English translation of appeal (click here to download) 
    • Shared via Aira Kalela, delegate of the UNFCCC  
  • Join people's movement marches and street actions in Paris or your region
    • Nov 28/29 Global Climate March - find a local march/event in your region or organize a march - global mobilization map and details at:
      • WECAN & worldwide allies will march as a women's bloc in Paris. Details will be announced soon - please be welcome to email us at if you would like to march with us.
    • Dec 12 Mass Mobilization on the streets of Paris, details TBA - there are also various local direct actions, info to be posted on the & as they become available
  • Engage with the WECAN network on social media for updates from COP21 - we also ask you to please share the WECAN TwitterFacebook, and newsletter far and wide so that many more allies can join us as we share and uplift voices of women for climate justice. (More details in the 'Connect with WECAN' section at the bottom of the notes)
WECAN Events & Actions in Paris during COP21: 
  • WECAN to be in Paris with a delegation inside negotiations and at outside events and in the streets in people's movement marches
  • Main messages/goals: demand and foster justice for women and the earth as we work to address climate change.  Grow women's leadership and show the power of women protecting the web of life around the world.  Work for women's representation at all levels and increased visibility of our struggles and solutions. Advocate for systemic changes to our economy and legal framework's around nature, connecting inequality and climate change, keeping fossil fuels in the ground, a just transition to 100% renewable energy, and serious action to keep under a 1.5 degree global temperature increase.
  • Dec.7: 'Women Leading Solutions on the Frontlines of Climate Change - Paris'
    • 13 - 18:30 at the Paris Marriott Opera Ambassador Hotel
    • Free & open to the public
    • An extraordinary gathering of worldwide women standing in solidarity to speak out against environmental and social injustice, draw attention to root causes of the climate crisis, and present the diverse strategies and visions with which they are working for systemic change and a healthy and equitable world. This event is organized with the conviction that real forward movement towards climate justice depends on the full and equal participation of women in all stages of decision-making and implementation. Women have always been on the frontlines, now it is time for them to be at the forefront. 
    • View the line-up of outstanding speakers and register
    • The WECAN team is working to set up online live-streaming of the event, we will share details soon and ask you to help spread the word!
  • Dec. 8: 'Global Women & Indigenous Peoples on the Frontline of Climate Solutions: Forests & Renewable Energy' 
    • Formal COP21 side event, accreditation required
    • 15:00-16:30, Blue Zone Room #3
    • A formal COP21 side event during which we will examine the Women's Climate Action Agenda, present the Indigenous Sarayaku people of Ecuador's "Living Forest" proposal, and showcase women as agents of change in the transition to 100% renewable energy.
  • Dec. 4 and 5 - International Rights of Nature Tribunal,
    • Info & registration:
    • A unique, citizen-created initiative providing an opportunity for people from across the globe to testify publicly on destruction of the Earth and their communities, while advancing an alternative legal framework for living in harmony with the Earth. The Tribunal will feature internationally renowned lawyers and leaders for planetary justice, who will hear cases addressing issues such as climate change, GMOs, fracking, and extractive industries, and offer recommendations for the Earth's protection based on the Universal Declaration of the Rights of Mother Earth. 
    • The Tribunal is organized by the Global Alliance for the Rights of Nature, on whose Steering Committee WECAN serves.
Other COP21 events in Paris (see
  • Nov. 30 - Dec 11: Women's Solutions Exhibit sponsored by Women and Gender Constituency  Pavillion next to COP venue: located in the Espace Generation Climat in Le Bourget, next to official conference center:
  • Nov 28: 'Feminists for Climate Justice' event with French fem orgs, Auditorium of the City Hall of Paris,
  • Dec 5 & 6: Village Mondial des Alternatives (Global Alternatives Village)
  • Dec 6: Global Landscape Forum (GLF)
  • Dec 8: World March of Women assembly in the Climate Action Zone at Centquatre Salle 200, 14h-15:50h
Global Women's Climate Justice Day of Action report-back:
  • Thank you to everyone for your powerful participation in this very successful action! 
  • Explore and share worldwide actions here:
  • Women from 50 countries on every continent took action as part of Sept 29 Day of Action - uniting to show resistance to environmental degradation and demonstrate what real climate solutions look like
  • Stories collected on action gallery and dispersed via social media, picked up by worldwide media agencies who found these stories to be important headed in to COP21
  • Voices will be carried to COP21 climate negotiations via WECAN's advocacy work inside delegations, and a photo presentation to be shared during WECAN's December 7 'Women Leading Solutions' event - If you have not yet, be welcome to add your voice now so that it can be included in Paris efforts
  • Sept 29 hub event/4 hour mini-summit was held in New York across from the United Nations during UN general assembly. Short video coming soon!
  • Read & share articles on the Day of Action & Sept 29 hub event in NYC
Stay connected with WECAN through COP21 & beyond
Please do not hesitate to reach out to with any comments or questions! 
All the best,

Emily Arasim
Women's Earth & Climate Action Network Communications Coordinator

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