Nov. 15: Day of Action at St. Paul Army Corps of Engineers; UN Expert Issues First-Hand Report on DAPL

sign-3Indigenous leaders are calling on us to take to the streets and disrupt “business-as-usual” and demand that President Obama’s Army Corps of Engineers and the incoming administration stop the Dakota Access Pipeline — and all those after it.

On Tuesday, November 15th, join a massive day of action in solidarity with those at Standing Rock, and demand the Federal government and the Army Corps reject this pipeline.

Details: Tuesday, Nov. 15 at noon at the Army Corps of Engineers Centre, 180 5th Street East, St. Paul. Event page here.

(The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers is a key decision maker in issuing permits to allow DAPL to drill under the Missouri River.)

As a reminder to allies, several faith communities have taken a position supporting the Standing Rock Nation and others opposing the Dakota Access Pipeline. Here are the statements from the:

If you are a member of one of these communities, please consider attending this event. (If you are not a member of one of these communities, please consider attending.)

Those sponsoring this event include: Indigenous Environmental Network (IEN); Honor the Earth; 350.org; Native Organizers Alliance; National Nurses United; Greenpeace USA; Food and Water Watch; Daily Kos; Natural Resources Defense Council; Sierra Club and Friends of the Earth.

Remember, too, that tomorrow (Saturday) several fundraisers for the Water Protectors are being held along Franklin Avenue.

For information on a recently released United Nations report on the situation near Standing Rock, keep reading.

At the request of Standing Rock Sioux Tribal Chairman David Archambault, the United Nations Permanent Forum on Indigenous Issues (UNPFII) sent an observer to better understand the conditions surrounding the Dakota Access Pipeline

Chief Edward John, an expert member for the UNPFII, visited the Oceti Sakowin Camp and surrounding area from Oct. 29-31, and spent time in dialogue with people who were willing to share their experiences and views.

The website Cultural Survivor ran the full report from Chief John, issued Nov. 1. Key paragraphs include the following:

The alarming acts that criminalize Indigenous peoples in their attempts to safeguard their human rights and fundamental freedoms that is unfolding in North Dakota should prompt the United States government into action. Indeed, this is one of the most alarming facts about the situation in North Dakota: the total lack of presence by the United States government. …

The total lack of presence and action by the United States government, at the federal level must be addressed. In addition to the Bill of Rights, the United States must be reminded of the ratification of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights as well as the 2010 public pronouncement of support for the UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples. If the US chooses not to act in response to the alarming actions being manifested in North Dakota, their rhetoric within the halls of the UN are nothing more than empty, meaningless promises. …

More significant, in light of the nation-to-nation relationship that the Standing Rock Sioux and the Great Sioux Nation overall has with the United States government, the US must fulfill its trust responsibility and fiduciary obligations. The United States has a legal obligation and “has charged itself with moral obligations of the highest responsibility and trust” toward Indian tribes in the United States, including the Standing Rock Sioux. There is no question that it is “one of the most important principles in federal Indian law.” And, this federal Indian trust responsibility and fiduciary obligation includes protection of tribal treaty rights, lands, assets, and resources, as well as a duty to carry out the mandates of federal law with respect to the Standing Rock Sioux, including their “legal duties, moral obligations, and the fulfillment of understandings and expectations” of the Great Sioux Nation, especially when their lives and their cultural integrity is at stake.

Here are other excerpts.

On concerns about water:

… it is clear to me that the project has and will adversely impact the Standing Rock Sioux and their waters specifically, as well as cultural, spiritual, sacred and ancient village sites on their lands in their territory.  …

On protecting cultural sites:

I am advised by a Sioux elder and cultural leader that so far some 380 cultural and sacred sites along the pipeline route have been destroyed by work associated with the right of way clearing for the pipeline. …

On the disproportionate response by law enforcement:

All these actions have directly contributed to a “war zone” atmosphere and intensified levels of scrutiny. On the bridge near the south camp I witnessed burned out vehicles stationed to prevent passage either way. Large concrete blocks have also been laid across the bridge beyond the destroyed vehicles. Nearby I met officers in body armor, fully armed and in full camouflage gear. Although they tentatively extended a hand of courtesy, I felt as though I was in an armed conflict zone on foreign soil. …

On infiltrating the camp:

Tribal authorities and those at the south camp indicated that there have been provocateurs present. They stated that one such incident involved an individual carrying a “semi-automatic rifle” with a clip for bullets, threatening to fire. He was quickly surrounded by many of those from the south camp and disarmed. He was subsequently arrested by the BIA police — significantly not by the Morton County sheriff’s officers who were nearby. This incident occurred off the Tribal reservation boundaries. The individual held pipeline company identification documents and the vehicle he was driving indicated that it was signed out that morning from the company’s compound. …

On law enforcement’s perspective:

Their narrative about the events of the day is decidedly different from that of many others. They stated that they had been dealing with numerous individuals from the camps for the past 3 months and had a variety of minor and ongoing confrontations with various protestors, including some that they described as “militants who hijacked Tribal authorities” and further stated that no one should “use ideology to hurt people and trash property”. …

I was further told that those arrested were treated with respect, fed, clothed and their medical needs attended to. Law enforcement officials denied allegations of human rights violations or abuses.

Click on this link for the full report.

The Story Repeats Itself: The Puyallup Tribe

This story from Washington State is a reminder that the issues at Standing Rock are replaying in many other parts of the world, where the long-term protection of the environment is pitted against short-term financial gains.

According to the website LRInspire:

Puget Sound Energy is seeking to build a liquefied natural gas plant in Tacoma, WA. The proposed facility would chill natural gas to produce approximately 250,000 gallons of liquefied natural gas (LNG) daily. The Puyallup Tribe opposes the plant due to its potential impact on water and the environment.

Statement on the proposed LNG facility by the Puyallup Tribe.

“After taking leadership in opposing – and ultimately defeating – a proposed methanol plant on the boundaries of their reservation this year, the Puyallup Tribe of Indians now again stands firmly the liquefied natural gas (LNG) plant slated to be built, again, on the Tribe’s reservation boundaries at the Tacoma tideflats.

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