Indigenous Peoples and Human Rights

November 19, 2022

Speaking for the Water -- Indigenous Water Protectors Speak for the Children and Rivers

Indigenous at COP27: Speaking out for climate Justice 

Emem Okun of Kebetkache women and member of Grassroots Global Justice's delegation to COP 27 shares her experiences enduring polluted water in her community in the Niger Delta in Nigeria on a panel of Indigenous leaders.

Speaking for the Water -- Indigenous Water Protectors Speak for the Children and Rivers

By Brenda Norrell
Censored News
Translated into French by Christine Prat at:

Ponca children have asthma and are using inhalers because of the oil and gas industry in Oklahoma, which is now a massive crime scene. In Kenya, children dig for water before going to school. In Nigeria, the water is poisoned by oil and gas wells and fracking and women and children are suffering. 

Speaking during a panel at the United Nations Climate Summit in Egypt, Casey Camp-Horinek, Ponca, said she lives in the Occupied Territory of Oklahoma.

"Mass murderers called fossil fuel industries are there to kill us and nothing more," Casey said during an Indigenous Climate Action Panel, after leading a Water Ceremony in the morning.

"They kill Mother Earth, they kill the sacred seeds, they kill the waters, they kill the airs, they buy and sell the sacred and forget all of those that they depend on as well."

In Ponca territory, 100 percent of Ponca families have cancer and children have asthma and must use inhalers from the time they can walk.

There are 10,000 fracking sites on the lands of 39 federally recognized tribes in Oklahoma. The water from fracking is defiled for life.

"Water has memory. She has life, she has a way of being that is sacred, that is a part of us. When she is hurt, and poisoned, we are as well."

"Our spirits are hurt, but not gone."

Casey said the federal government has failed in every trust responsibility and violated every Treaty it created. They are trying to deny that they need the water and do not think about the unborn.

Ponca put a moratorium on injection wells and fracking, and then passed a law recognizing the Rights of Nature.

"We are nature ourselves, there is no separation."

This year the Ponca Nation passed a law that now recognizes the rights of the two rivers in their area, and they will take polluters to their court.

"The land herself speaks that into our hearts and spirits."

Casey said the "stupid carbon trading programs" demand that we speak for those who do not speak for the same language that we speak.

"We feel the stone people, we feel the earth, we feel the water, we feel the air."

In Nigeria, it is a need for water, and too much water from floods. In the Niger Delta. It is the women who are most impacted. Children have to miss school because they have to support their families at home.

In Cameroon, there are long difficult walks to get water. In the Niger Delta, they are drinking poisonous water. Toxic gases from oil and gas wells are released into the air and the runoff from the roofs are now acidic, making rainwater too toxic to drink.

Oil and gas extraction is polluting the water, and poisoning the fish. The life expectancy is about 40 to 45 years, said Emem Okun of Kebetkache women and member of Grassroots Global Justice's delegation.

By 2050, as many as 86 million Africans will be forced to migrate within their own countries due to climate change.

In Kenya, women are fighting dams and the land is suffering from drought.

"Land and territory is critical, that is where our water is."

Women and children walk long distances and dig for clean water. Children must do this before they go to school in Kenya. Traditional knowledge is not being considered in the struggle for water in Kenya.

Rukia Ahmed (The Hummingbird) said, "I come from a pastoralist community who are the most affected by climate change in northeastern Kenya. My people are starving due to extreme droughts. Their livestock are dying and they are at a risk of dying too! I am here at COP27 to demand climate justice." 
Moñeka de Oro of Guahan, Pacific Islander

In the Pacific Islands, people are vulnerable because of climate change and militarization. The United States military is contaminating the aquifer in Guam and is not held accountable.

"I come with the message to defend water, to defend life. Youth in Guahan are defending the freshwater coming out from our cliffs going out to our oceans from a firing range being built. We need peace just as much as we need climate action," said Moñeka de Oro.

"Our islands are always between warring powers," Moneka said, pointing out that climate action is not possible without peace and the upholding of human rights.

Hupa in northern California are removing hydroelectric dams, which are being promoted as a false solution for climate change.

People must not be exterminated by corporate greed, said Danielle Frank of Ríos to Rivers and youth leader of the Hupa Tribe in the Klamath River Basin. She points out that it is this fight against corporate greed that brings the people together here.

"Lean on our Indigenous communities," Danielle said during the panel's comments.

“Indigenous resistance to dams has been constant. We have known since the beginning that cutting off the flow of rivers destroys not just the fish and ecosystem, but the people who depend on these food sources and the cultural connections rivers provide," she said in a statement.

"Cultures grew up on rivers – without rivers, we would not exist. Our people have suffered enough for the profit of others."

In the Amazon, Indigenous are battling the destruction of hydroelectric dams and their rivers are being poisoned by oil and gas wells and mining. The fish are being poisoned by the gold miners.

Amazon Indigenous said they are inspired by what they are hearing here.

Listen to Indigenous from Brazil in defense of the water, which is in Portuguese. Listen to this full panel presentation:

Casey Camp Horinek: The Rights of Nature
COP27 in Egypt

"We’ve been forced off of our own lands, for the Ponca and 36 other tribes the Trail of Tears moved us to the “Indian territory” in Oklahoma. We were told we must model our nations after their failing government and law. They have the right to break every treaty, the right to continue Indigenous genocide -- starting with Smallpox blankets. Fast forward to today the environmental genocide continues by oil companies like Conoco Phillips, fracking, injection wells, fossil fuel man camps that come through our territories—defiling the Earth by putting chemicals into the land, air and water.

"The Ponca decided to reestablish our own sovereign laws, first in 2017, becoming the first tribe [in the US] to recognize Rights of Nature. And in July 2022 we recognized the Rights of two sacred rivers that surround us because fracking waste is being dumped in there, fish kills are happening. Rights is not something we’re GIVING to Nature, we’re recognizing the rights that always have been always will be.

"The Earth will be here when we’re gone. But we can chose a different path. Do we, as humans, like Movement Rights says, chose to align human law with the laws of the natural world? When those things come together then we have a way forward. I hear a lot about Human Rights and Indigenous Rights at the COP. What are we if we’re not Nature herself? It is about the Rights of Nature and our human responsibilities to her. We can do this. We can do this."

Kebetkache Women in Nigeria: Floods, Carbon Emissions and Displacement

"The recent floods in Nigeria leaving large swathes of agricultural land under water and displacing over a million people, with over 3,000 dead was a stark reminder to participants and the world to act with urgency to address the roots of the climate crisis. Though Africa has contributed less than 3% of all carbon emissions since 1880 and is warming faster than any other region in the world, it has contributed least to the climate crisis. By 2050, as many as 86 million Africans will be forced to migrate within their own countries due to climate change."

The United Nations is Greenwashing Hyrdoelectric Dams

Nicole Cuqui of the San José de Uchupiamonas indigenous community in the Bolivian Amazon said, "The UN continues to recognize hydroelectric dams as clean energy, giving countries and investors the greenlight to finance these destructive projects in developing countries where we still have native forests and highly biodiverse areas intact."

"This allows countries and hydropower companies to claim they’re reducing carbon emissions, but in reality, they are helping to destroy our forests, rivers and displacing the indigenous people from their territories. This is egregious greenwashing continues a legacy of loss and damage."

Poisonous Air in Indian Country

The United States leads the world with the most poisonous emissions in south Texas oil and gas fields

Anadarko in Oklahoma, which is home to 39 federally-recognized tribes, and the Arikara, Mandan and Hidatsa Nation, Three Affiliated Tribes, oil and gas wells in the Bakken field in North Dakota are among the top emitters of poisonous greenhouse gases in North America, according to the new Climate Trace data released at COP27. 

The Bakken is ranked fifth in North America and Anardarka is ranked seventh in North America as producers of the greatest amount of greenhouse gases, increasing global warming and the climate crisis, and poisoning the air.

Dine' on the Navajo Nation are being poisoned by dangerous gases from the oil and gas fields in San Juan County and Navajo Nation power plants and coal mines. President Biden's Interior is pushing for more oil and gas wells in northwest New Mexico in the Greater Chaco region, sacred to Pueblos and Navajos.

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