Posted 02 September 2011, by Deborah Dupre, Examiner (Clarity Digital Group LLC), examiner.com
United North American First Nation Peoples tell Obama and Clinton ‘Honor Treaties’ and ‘No Crude Oil’
Canadian and American First Nations Peoples journeyed to add a powerful united force with hundreds of others at the White House Pipeline Protest Friday, many being among 166 more arrests including Indigenous Environmental Network (IEN) director Tom Goldtooth there with Assembly of First Nations (AFN) Regional Chief for Northwest Territories Bill Erasmus, National Chief Alteo plus other Indigenous leaders, for their voices to be heard with other protesters and also, to meet with Obama’s senior officials from Indian Affairs about the proposed Keystone XL pipeline project.
“Any time the life, health, and cultures of Indigenous peoples are threatened in any way, we will speak out and stand in full solidarity,” stated National Chief Atleo, defending rights of Mother Earth and the Peoples who have lived on the land at-risk, due to the proposed pipeline, for 30,000 years.
Lakota rights defender Debra White Plume said, before she was arrested, “We have to stand up for Mother Earth.”
“We have to stand up for our sacred water—for our children, our grandchildren, for the coming generations.”
“First Nations support responsible economic development in partnership with industry but this project has been controversial from the start,” said AFN National Chief Shawn A-in-chut Atleo, stating he fully supports First Nations taking forward their rights and interests in relation to the pipeline according to the Assembly of First Nations.
National Chief Shawn A-in-chut Atleo is a Hereditary Chief from the Ahousaht First Nation according to AFN. In July 2009, A-in-chut was elected to a three-year mandate as National Chief to the Assembly of First Nations.
“People are dying. Literally. I mean right now. I have someone in hospital undergoing chemo now. I had friend killed by a truck working for oil industry that crushed her. I just had another friend, 21-years old, killed by a semi-truck hauling oil for the oil industry,” said Kandi Mossett in a citizen reporter interview through tears.
“It’s ridiculous that we can’t get our voices heard unless we come up hear and get arrested. But if that’s what it takes, that’s what I’m willing to do,” she said. (Watch Kandi Mossett interview in the embedded Youtube on this page left.)
Kandi Mossett was arrested later on Friday.
“In all, 166 people were arrested for committing acts of civil disobedience at the White House gates facing Lafayette Park. Their crime was carrying signs too close to the gates—signs printed with the words ‘Obama Honor the Treaties’ and ‘Stop the Keystone XL Pipeline’—as they verbally implored President Barack Obama not to sign off on the creation of a vast cross-border pipeline project that could prove environmentally and culturally dangerous.”
Canadian Indigenous Tar Sands Campaign (CITSC) is a Native-based campaign implemented through the Indigenous Environmental Network (IEN) were also at the White House protesting the pipeline.
Other noted First Nation Peoples arrested included Mandan, Hidatsa, and Arikara, from North Dakota.
On August 26, 2011, the U.S. Department of State issued an Environmental Impact Statement declaring the pipeline will have “no significant impact” on the environment, contrary to the Environmental Protection Agency’s stated concerns about the environmental risks.
The project is currently under a 90 day review to determine if it is in the “best interests” of the United States.
If approved, the pipeline development would stretch from northern reaches of Canada, through the Great Plains, and down south to Texas and the Gulf of Mexico.
Friday’s protesters cited not only environmental destruction, health effects, and cultural impacts but also lack of consultation with Indigenous Peoples “already feeling the impact of the development” reported Indian Country on Friday.
Referring to the violation of the Indigenous Right to self-determination, National Chief Atleo stated, ”Many representative groups and individuals, including the National Congress of American Indians and the Governor of Nebraska, have stated this project is not safe. We call on President Obama to reject this project as soon as possible.”
The National Congress of American Indians has declared solidarity with First Nations in Canada opposing the Keystone XL and has directly spoken out in opposition to the project. The Assembly of First Nations is the national organization representing First Nations citizens in Canada.
Indian Country reported, “The Obama administration, led by Hillary Clinton’s State Department, is considering its position on the matter as top Canadian officials and energy magnates have already come out in support of the pipeline’s expansion through the U.S.”
The pipeline decision rests in the hands of Clinton according to Senator Mike Johanns.