News: Line 3 appeals coming; former Trump aid gets mask contract for Navajo hospitals, and they might not work; and more

In this blog:

  • Line 3 appeals coming
  • Former Trump aid gets contract to supply masks to Navajo hospitals, and they might not work
  • Holding online public hearings to review new oil and gas projects could undermine Indian Country involvement
  • 3 dozen democrats back Standing Rock’s attempt to shut down DAPL during new environmental review
  • The Four Invasions: Nick Estes on Indigenous resistance and the vision of a better future

Line 3 appeals coming

The White Earth Nation, Red Lake Nation, Honor the Earth, the Minnesota Department of Commerce, the Youth Climate Intervenors, the Friends of the Headwaters and the Sierra Club have filed motions to the Minnesota Public Utilities Commission (PUC) asking it to reconsider its approvals of the Enbridge Line 3 tar sands pipeline, according to reports in the Star Tribune and Bemidji Pioneer.

Undoubtedly, the PUC will reject the requests, but this will be a key procedural step to get the case before the Minnesota Court of Appeals. Of particular interest was the motion from the Minnesota Department of Commerce, which has long argued that Enbridge failed in the essential task of proving the pipeline is needed. Having a state agency weigh in against the project will strengthen the arguments from Native Nations and environmental groups.

Former Trump aid gets contract to supply masks to Navajo hospitals, and they might not work

ProPublica reports that the federal government gave a $3 million contract to a former White House official to supply masks to Navajo hospitals and the masks may not work. It said:

Zach Fuentes, former deputy chief of staff to President Trump, won the contract just days after registering his company. He sold Chinese masks to the government just as federal regulators were scrutinizing foreign-made equipment. …

The IHS [Indian Health Service]told ProPublica it has found that 247,000 of the masks delivered by Fuentes’ company — at a cost of roughly $800,000 — may be unsuitable for medical use. An additional 130,400, worth about $422,000, are not the type specified in the procurement data, the agency said.

These masks are of critical importance: The Navajo Nation has been hit particularly hard by the novel coronavirus. Yahoo News reported April 24 that the Navajo Nation “has a per capita infection rate 10 times higher than that of neighboring Arizona and the third-highest infection rate in the country behind those of New York and New Jersey.” On May 18, CNN reported that the Navajo Nation had surpassed New York State for the highest infection rate in the country.

Holding online public hearings to review new oil and gas projects could undermine Indian Country involvement

New oil and gas projects can take place on lands with cultural significance to Native Nations. Recent examples include the Dakota Access Pipeline and Enbridge Line 3 crude oil pipelines. Moving government public hearings on such proposals on-line could leave out  important Indigenous voices from the discussion, according to a story in the Washington Post. It said:

The Trump administration is holding virtual public meetings during the coronavirus pandemic to move forward with long-standing plans to expand oil and gas development on public lands. Native American groups, many of whom lack consistent access to the Internet, are worried their voices will not be heard.

3 dozen democrats back Standing Rock’s attempt to shut down DAPL during new environmental review

The controversial Dakota Access Pipeline (DAPL) has been running for several years, a U.S. District Judge found that the project needed a more extensive environmental review, the Associated Press reported. Three dozen congressional Democrats — including Sens. Cory Booker, Kamala Harris and Elizabeth Warren — filed a court brief this week backing the Standing Rock Nation’s attempt to shut down DAPL in North Dakota during the review.

They argued that “allowing the Dakota Access pipeline to operate during the review would give federal agencies ‘bureaucratic momentum’ and violate treaty rights and tribal sovereignty,” the story said.

The Four Invasions: Nick Estes on Indigenous resistance and the vision of a better future

The Sun ran an extended interview with historian Nck Estes, a member of the Lower Brule branch of the Lakota people and author of the book “Our History Is the Future: Standing Rock Versus the Dakota Access Pipeline and the Long Tradition of Indigenous Resistance.”

It puts a stories about pipelines and extractive industries — which Estes refers to as the fourth invasion — into a larger context. Here’s one small snippet:

I hesitate to say that Indigenous knowledge provides a pathway to a more sustainable future, because I think that puts too much burden on us to save the planet. And it romanticizes Indigenous knowledge. Indigenous knowledge didn’t help us deal with genocide, ecocide, or the taking of a future from entire generations of people. No human society has any knowledge that could prepare it for that.

But I do think we can learn from Indigenous people that capitalism is neither inevitable nor natural. Many Indigenous societies were not evolving to capitalism. Its class system and heteropatriarchy were entirely alien to us. The split between humanity and nature? There is no word for “nature” in Lakota. Our word for “humans,” Oyáte, is a universal term that applies to nonhumans as well.

Click on links above for more details.

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