Bears Ears National Monument Threatened; Upcoming “Resistance and Resilience” Event in Minneapolis; and More

This important update from the Native American Rights Fund blog: Stand Firm for Bears Ears.

Last December, President Obama designated an area of great importance in southeastern Utah as a national monument known as “Bears Ears.”  [This week] President Trump signed an executive order directing Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke to conduct a two-part review, aimed first at the Bears Ears National Monument in Southeastern Utah and then at other post-1995 monument designations made pursuant to the Antiquities Act.

The stated policy of the order is to review all monuments created since 1996 to determine if they were created without “public outreach and proper coordination.”

In an email, the organization gave some additional background:

Bears Ears, an area in southeast Utah, is filled with sacred sites, hunting grounds, and medicines that are still used today; it is a place where Native ancestors are buried and to be honored. Despite being such an incredible cultural treasure, the designation as a monument was made only after persistent efforts of many who spoke to the importance of the region.  President Obama designated Bears Ears National Monument after two years of public input and meetings in both Utah and DC. The effort to protect Bears Ears was very long, very public, and very robust, which makes yesterday’s order especially offensive.

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A Tale of Two Rivers: One Threatened by a Pipeline Spill, the Other Protected with Personhood

The Missouri River faces environmental threats from possible breaks in the Dakota Access Pipeline (DAPL). Meanwhile, in Aotearoa (the Maori term for New Zealand) the Whanganui River, the country’s largest river, now has the legal protection of personhood status. It requires review of development projects keeping the river’s best interests in mind.

DAPL’s potential threats to the Missouri River remain shrouded in secrets. The federal government has rejected a Freedom of Information (FOIA) request which sought more details. The government’s fear seems to be that someone with access to its analysis could use it to sabotage the pipeline. Yet by implication, it also means that the government acknowledges that if the pipeline fails on its own, significant environmental damage will happen.

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American Indian Month Kick-Off Event Includes a Parade, Mask Making and a Feast!

The May 1 American Indian kick-off event includes a parade, an art festival, and a feast.

Here is how you can join in the fun and build community!

  • 9 a.m. Kick-off Breakfast at Cedar Field Park, 2500 Cedar Ave. S. Deanna Standing Cloud and Rhiana Yazzie will Emcee the event. Red Bone will be the host drum.
  • 10:45 a.m. A parade (with floats!) will start and wind its way down East 25th Street to Chicago Avenue, Chicago to Franklin Avenue, then east to the Minneapolis American Indian Center.
  • Noon: Community feast at the Minneapolis American Indian Center, 1530 East Franklin Ave.
  • 1 p.m. Art Festival: Includes a mask making workshop at All My Relations Gallery, 1414 East Franklin, bring-your-own t-shirt screen printing, and community found object sculpture making!

Michigan Episcopal Diocese Calls Crude Oil Pipeline Immoral, and Other Weekend Reading

A large West Michigan diocese is calling on Gov. Rick Snyder to scale back oil transportation through the controversial Enbridge Line 5 pipeline, according to a story posted on mlive.com: Pumping oil through Enbridge’s Line 5 is immoral, diocese says

In a resolution signed Feb. 18, the Episcopal Diocese of Western Michigan implored Snyder to use his executive power to protect the “integrity of creation.”

“We fellow stewards of the gift of creation, strive to safeguard the integrity of creation and sustain and renew the life of the earth,” the resolution, signed by Bishop Whayne M. Hougland Jr., reads. “By sustaining the life of the earth, we work toward justice and peace among all people.”

That’s leadership. Continue for more articles.

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Reflections on ‘Equal Justice Under the Law’ in North Dakota’s DAPL-Related Cases

Remember the security worker who posed as a water protector at the Dakota Access Pipeline (DAPL) protest, the guy with AR-15 assault rifle?

It turns out that Kyle Thompson, 30, was just arrested for domestic violence, carrying a concealed weapon, and possession of marijuana and methamphetamine paraphernalia, according to an article in the Bismarck Tribune. Thompson did three tours of duty in Afghanistan for the Army, and said he suffers from Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD). His sister had been killed recently in a car accident.

He received what could be called a compassionate sentence. Being compassionate is a good thing. At the same time, it is fair to ask how Thompson’s case compares to some of those involving Native American water protectors and their allies.

Let’s take a closer look. Continue reading

White Community Silence in the Theft of Land, Oil from Native Peoples

People in power have a history of taking advantage of Native Americans to profit from their land and natural resources, including oil. It is not just the rich and powerful, however. In order for these things to happen, the majority community has to give its approval, even if it is just through its silence.

Today, large energy companies are pushing for crude oil pipeline projects that affect Native peoples, and do so without their consent. The pipelines cross sacred lands, sacred waters, and/or areas where Native peoples have reserved hunting and fishing rights. Two current examples are the Dakota Access Pipeline (DAPL) in North Dakota and Enbridge Line 3, a proposal to expand and reroute a tar sands oil pipeline through northern Minnesota.

Native American peoples are small in number and do not have a strong political voice. Standing up to large companies, powerful interests, and unsympathetic communities is an uphill battle, with an ugly history.

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News Wrap: Indigenous Environmental Victories, A Native Perspective on Bombing ISIS, Native American Superheros in Comics, and More!

Below are summaries and links to recent news items about recent indigenous environmental victories, a Native perspective on bombing ISIS, a publisher who is breaking stereotypes and raising up Native American superheros, and a failed effort at a symbolic gesture to mend wounds in North Dakota. Continue reading