By WECAN International
ZURICH, SWITZERLAND – Over the last week, a delegation of Indigenous women from Standing Rock and their allies who observed and/or experienced human rights and Indigenous rights violations in North Dakota due to the building of the Dakota Access pipeline have been taking action and speaking out in Switzerland, sharing on-the-ground experiences from Standing Rock and other traditional territories, as Indigenous women who are living in communities directly impacted by fossil fuel development and infrastructure.
After a successful previous week in Norway including meetings with the Oil Fund, DNB, the Norwegian Parliament, and Sami Indigenous peoples of the region, the ‘Indigenous Women’s Divestment Delegation: Experiences from Standing Rock’ received a request to travel to Switzerland to continue their work to highlight Indigenous and human rights violations and demand pipeline divestment. Like Norway, some the largest funders and supporters of the Dakota Access pipeline and other fossil fuel developments in the U.S. and across the world are based in Switzerland.
In Zurich, the Delegation met with Credit Suisse and UBS, and held a press conference, public event and interview sessions with leading media outlets.
The Indigenous Women’s Divestment Delegation was organized with the support of the Women’s Earth and Climate Action Network (WECAN) International in response to the leadership and request of frontline Indigenous women seeking financial divestment from DAPL and other fossil fuel developments, which threaten the lives, rights and cultural survival of their nations and peoples.
Delegation members included Dr. Sarah Jumping Eagle (Oglala Lakota and Mdewakantonwan Dakota living and working on the Standing Rock Sioux Reservation); Wasté Win Young (Ihunktowanna/Hunkpapa of the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe, Former Tribal Historic Preservation Officer); Tara Houska (Anishinaabe, tribal attorney, National Campaigns Director of Honor the Earth, and former advisor on Native American affairs to Bernie Sanders); Autumn Star Chacon (Diné/Navajo Water Protector); and Michelle Cook (Diné/Navajo, human rights lawyer and a founding member of the of the Water Protector Legal Collective at Standing Rock). [Full spokes-women biographies available here]
Members of the ‘Indigenous Women's Divestment Delegation: Experiences from Standing Rock’ responded to the meeting with Credit Suisse bank as follows:
“The meeting with Credit Suisse fulfilled all my expectations of a bank that tries to pretend it is removed from the atrocities happening on the ground, and that they are somehow just nice people. That said, I think it was very powerful for them to see our faces first hand and to hear the experiences of people at Standing Rock and to know that their money is invested in the company that is creating this pipeline project causing destruction to real people. We are in the era of renewable energy, we have alternatives to the fossil fuel industry. We are asking the Swiss people to stand with us and to recognize that the actions they take affect others around the world and that simply because it's out of sight and out of mind does not mean that this is not actually happening. Divestment is the next wave of direct action against these corporations.” explained Tara Houska (Anishinaabe, tribal attorney, National Campaigns Director of Honor the Earth, and former advisor on Native American affairs to Bernie Sanders)
“Credit Suisse was receptive to our description of the human rights abuses that occurred during the protests. Yet they are still in denial about their direct financing of the corrupt Energy Transfer Partner corporation and its role in the Dakota Access pipeline project. Credit Suisse is attempting to distance themselves from these violations of indigenous rights and human rights abuses. On a positive note, they said that they would review their internal policies and procedures to take into account indigenous and human rights.” explained Dr. Sarah Jumping Eagle (Oglala Lakota and Mdewakantonwan Dakota living and working on the Standing Rock Sioux Reservation)
"Here we have one of the most powerful banks in the world, doing business with unethical corporations in the U.S. who have undermined the law and human rights. And this bank wants to relinquish any direct tie to genocide of American Indians, however in this case we all see the bank as the enabler of the abuser." explained Autumn Star Chacon (Diné/Navajo Water Protector)
“Our financial institutions must fundamentally change and become accountable to people and planet. The Indigenous women leaders spoke truth to power at the Credit Suisse meeting and are calling for justice. The bank representatives who heard the women speak will not be the same again after hearing first hand experiences of rights violations and their demands for no more fossil fuel extraction on their lands, respect for Indigenous Rights, Indigenous sovereignty, human rights and the rights of nature. We will continue with our divestment advocacy and actions with the bank until we see results with justice and care for all of our children’s futures.” explained Osprey Orielle Lake (Executive Director of the Women’s Earth and Climate Action Network and Delegation organizer)
The Women’s Earth and Climate Action Network (WECAN International) is a solutions-based organization established to engage women worldwide as powerful stakeholders in climate change, climate justice, and sustainability solutions. WECAN International was founded in 2013 as a project of the 501(c)3 Women’s Earth and Climate Caucus (WECC) organization.