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.
Tribal Members in Oklahoma Defeat Natural Gas Pipeline Company: Indian Country Today reports that a federal court has ordered removal of natural gas pipeline in Oklahoma for trespassing on original Kiowa Indian lands. The plaintiffs in the case are 38 enrolled members of the Comanche, Caddo, Apache, Cherokee and Kiowa Tribes. Sadly, it took 15 years for the government to take their concerns seriously. According to the article:
The Bureau of Indian Affairs approved an easement across the land in 1980 for Enable’s predecessor, Producer’s Gas Company, to construct and install a natural gas pipeline. The original easement expired in 2000, according to court documents. By 2002, the company had changed to Enogex, Inc., and had submitted a right-of-way offer to the BIA and the plaintiffs for another 20 years. The majority of the landowners rejected the offer. …
In 2008, the BIA’s interim superintendent of the Anadarko Agency approved Enogex’s application to renew the easement for 20 years. The plaintiffs appealed the decision in 2010, and the BIA vacated the opinion.
“The BIA determined that it did not have authority to approve the right-of-way without the consent of plaintiffs or their predecessors in interest and that the price offered by defendants was unreasonable,” according to court documents.
Victory for Alaska Natives: Coal Mine Suspends Application: The Native American Rights Fund reports the following:
Across Cook Inlet from Anchorage, Alaska, is the Native Village of Tyonek. The 180 Tubughna (the residents of the Native Village of Tyonek), like generations before them, harvest subsistence resources and engage in cultural practices that are based in the forests and wetlands of the Ch’u’itnu watershed they call home. They rely on their landscape for their sustenance and spiritual identity. Unfortunately for them, in the 1970s, coal was discovered under nearby wetlands. Since that time, the Tubughna have been forced to fight relentlessly against proposed coal development and to keep their landscape and lifeways intact.
Most recently, PacRim Coal, LP, applied to develop the Chuitna Coal Project only seven miles from the Native Village of Tyonek. They proposed to strip-mine the river bed and surrounding wetlands, which are spawning grounds for all five of the wild Pacific salmon species. They wanted to remove 13.7 miles of the river bed from bank to bank and 350 feet down, destroying existing habitats and ecosystems. NARF represented the Tubughna in their opposition to the Chuitna Coal Project. Many years in the coming, they recently met with some success.
Last month, PacRim suspended its efforts to permit the project.
Native Water Rights Issues Near Palm Springs Going to the U.S. Supreme Court: Indian Country Today reports that the Agua Caliente Band is fighting for the health of the aquifer under its reservation.
The case, Agua Caliente Band v. Coachella Valley Water District, was filed by the tribe in 2013 after repeated attempts to negotiate with the water agencies failed. Aqua Caliente has long been concerned about dropping levels in the 65-mile-long aquifer, which lies beneath its 31,500-acre reservation in and around Palm Springs. The tribe also expressed its opposition to the agencies’ plan to pump untreated Colorado River water into the aquifer. …
The case is being closely watched across the U.S. Several other tribes have joined the case as friends of the court …
A Native Perspective on War, Terrorism and the MOAB Bomb: Healing Minnesota Stories friend Mark Charles (Navajo) writes in his blog about the United States recent decision to use the “Mother Of All Bombs” (MOAB) on ISIS forces. It concludes:
May we not celebrate war.
May we not glorify violence.
May we not dehumanize our enemies.
For if we could refuse to dehumanize our enemies, it would make the terribleness of war all the more real. And maybe, just maybe, cause us to engage in it less often.
Publisher Focuses on Native American Superheros: Minnesota Public Radio reports on publisher, Native Realities, which is breaking down traditional stereotypes:
In comics and graphic novels, Native American characters aren’t usually very prominent. They’re often sidekicks — or worse. But a new publisher focused exclusively on Native writers and artists is changing that. Called Native Realities, the company just released the reboot of the first all-Native superhero comic.
Comics creator Jon Proudstar remembers the first time he saw a Native American character in a comic. It was Thunderbird, in the X-Men, and he was quickly killed off. Proudstar was 8 years old and he was not happy. “And for years I just lamented about it and said one day I’ll bring him back,” he says.
Senate Votes Down Bill Which Would Have Allowed Display of Tribal Flags at the North Dakota Capitol. This past February, the SayAnything blog reported on a bill introduced by North Dakota state Senator who also is member of the Turtle Mountain Band of Chippewa. It sought to allow the flags of North Dakota’s five recognized Indian tribes to be displayed in the Capitol. After all the acrimony over the Dakota Access Pipeline, it would have been a nice symbolic gesture. It got voted down.