ICWA under attack in Big Oil proxy fight, sacred Indigenous cave art sold to highest bidder, and more

In this blog:

  • ICWA under attack in Big Oil proxy fight
  • Sacred Indigenous cave art sold to highest bidder, leaving the Osage Nation heartbroken
  • Rondo Redux: highway splits black neighborhood in Virginia
  • New evidence of corruption at the EPA

Big Oil attacks Indian Child Welfare Act to erode tribal sovereignty, Lakota People’s Law Project says

A challenge to the Indian Child Welfare Act (ICWA) has reached the U.S. Supreme Court, and the Lakota People’s Law Project says if the law is overturned, it “could be the first legal domino in a broader attack on tribal rights and sovereignty.”

“Native children, mineral rights, and tribal self-determination could quickly become collateral damage,” it said.

A law firm connected with companies such as Enbridge and Energy Transfer Partners is providing pro bono support to overturn ICWA.

Congress passed ICWA in 1978 to Native children with Native families in those cases that the children were being taken from their homes by state child welfare agencies.

Studies had shown that these child welfare agencies, along with private adoption agencies, were separating Native children from their parents, communities, and cultural ties, according to the National Indian Child Welfare Association.

This is cultural genocide.

The case before the U.S. Supreme Court, Brackeen v. Haaland, involves white parents in Texas who adopted a Diné child. The white family claims ICWA is reverse discrimination.

The states of Texas, Ohio, Louisiana, and Indiana have joined the Brackens as co-defendants in the lawsuit, according to the Lakota People’s Law Project. Providing pro bono legal services is Gibson Dunn, “a high-powered law firm which also counts oil companies Energy Transfer and Enbridge, responsible for the Dakota Access and Line 3 pipelines, among its clients,” the Lakota People’s Law Project said.

This lawsuit is the latest attempt by pro-fossil fuel forces to eliminate federal oversight of racist state policies, continue the centuries-long genocide of America’s Native populations, and make outrageous sums of money for energy magnates, gaming speculators, and fossil fuel lawyers.

Lakota People’s Law Project

For the full story, click here.

The Guardian: Sacred Indigenous cave art sold to highest bidder, leaving Osage leaders heartbroken

A Missouri cave containing millennium-old Indigenous art was sold for $2.2 million earlier this month, “disappointing leaders of the Osage Nation who hoped to buy the land to ‘protect and preserve our most sacred site,’” according to an article in The Guardian.

“The cave was the site of sacred rituals and burying of the dead,” it said. “It also has more than 290 prehistoric glyphs, or hieroglyphic symbols used to represent sounds or meanings, ‘making it the largest collection of Indigenous people’s polychrome paintings in Missouri,’ according to the auction website.”

Full story here.

Rondo Redux: Highway splits black community in Virginia

When I-94 was built in the 1960s, it went through the heart of St. Paul’s Rondo Neighborhood, which was disproportionately black.

This isn’t a thing of the past.

“South Carolina is proposing to sweep aside dozens of homes, and potentially hundreds of people, to widen a freeway interchange choked with traffic in this booming coastal region,” the Washington Post reported. “… Under the state’s preferred proposal for the interchange upgrade, 94 percent of people and structures that would be displaced live in environmental justice communities mostly composed of Black and Brown residents.”

According to News One: “The $3 billion proposed plan would destroy 33 single-family homes, four apartment buildings with at least 35 units, 11 mobile homes, eight duplexes, two community centers, and at least one church.”

The Intercept: New evidence of corruption at the EPA

Black hole. Image: Wikimedia Commons

It wasn’t until recently that scientists could see black holes. They’ve known for a long time that black holes existed by inference. These incredibly dense black holes had such a strong gravitational pull they would affect the motion of nearby celestial bodies.

It’s kind of the same story with corporate influence over our government. You can’t really set it clearly, but you know it’s there because of strong pull it has on shaping our state and federal laws and policies.

We saw this happen a lot with the review of the Enbridge Line 3 tar sands pipeline.

As another example, consider this latest piece by The Intercept: New Evidence of Corruption at EPA Chemicals Division

Scientists at the Environmental Protection Agency have provided The Intercept with new information showing that senior staff have made chemicals appear safer — sometimes dodging restrictions on their use — by minimizing the estimates of how much is released into the environment. …

Whistleblowers from the EPA’s New Chemicals Division have already provided The Intercept with evidence that managers and other officials were pressuring them to assess chemicals to be less toxic than they actually are — and sometimes removing references to their harms from chemical assessments.

The Intercept

You can’t see the powerful forces at work behind the scene affecting these critical EPA decisions, decisions which threaten the health of this nation’s citizens. But we know they are there. These decision would make no sense without this kind of outside influences on scientists who wouldn’t voluntarily choose to threaten public health.

Two quotes in article jumped out at me:

First: “‘Our work on new chemicals often felt like an exercise in finding ways to approve new chemicals rather than reviewing them for approval,’ said one of two scientists who filed new disclosures to the EPA inspector general on August 31 about the issue.”

That sounds just like approach the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources (DNR) and the Minnesota Pollution Control Agency (MPCA) took in approving Line 3. Denying permits never seemed like an option. They were only looking for ways to get to “yes.”

Second: “It’s unclear why some senior staff and managers within the EPA’s New Chemicals Division seem to feel an obligation not to burden the companies they regulate with restrictions.”

That’s the problem. We can’t see how influence is wielded.

Maybe someday we’ll get a blurry photo of the black hole that is corporate influence, and understand it a little bit better.

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