Keystone XL Developer Waffling on Project, and other Weekend Reading

A little weekend reading, starting with good news from The Hill, which ran a story on Friday headlined: Developer might not build Keystone XL pipeline. Here’s the top, click the link for the rest.

The company that obtained a permit to build the controversial Keystone XL oil pipeline might decide not to build it.

A TransCanada Corp. executive told investors Friday that it is still assessing interest in Keystone among the oil companies that would pay to use the Canada-to-Texas line, as well as seeking remaining regulatory approvals, and it will likely decide in November or December whether to build.

Minnesota State Rep Mary Kunesh-Podein (DFL) wrote the following piece about Enbridge Line 3 for the online publication Vice Impact: There’s Another Proposed Pipeline That Blatantly Ignores Native Rights. She writes:

This project has special significance to me. As a state legislator, I promised to protect the environment. My family has a rich history in Standing Rock where I can trace my ancestry back for generations to Skuyapi and Lame Deer, Hunkpapa Lakota Sioux. Pipeline decisions matter to me from a policy standpoint, but more importantly, they are close to my heart. (Click on the link above for the full essay.)

Thirteen youth opposed to Enbridge Line 3 are official intervenors in the case before the Minnesota Public Utilities Commission, which is charged with approving or denying the project. The Star Tribune ran an opinion piece by Sophia Manolis, one of the intervenors. It was headlined: Why 13 young Minnesotans launched a legal fight against a pipeline:.

The Line 3 pipeline would have many harmful effects. High on the list: It would contribute to climate change by expanding fossil-fuel infrastructure and dependency. Therefore, 12 other young people and I petitioned to intervene together in these legal proceedings, because the advancement of climate change would directly, personally and adversely affect our future health, opportunities, livelihoods and well-being. (Click on the link above for the full essay.)



Do American Indians Celebrate the 4th of July?

This is probably a good reason to start a Twitter account, just wanted to pass along these stories.

Do American Indians Celebrate the 4th of July? The National Museum of American Indian asks do American Indians celebrate the 4th of July and let their readers tell their stories about the day. (Indian Country Today, July 4, 2017)

Today tribes hold ceremonies and celebrations on or near Independence Day for different reasons. The Lumbee of North Carolina and Mattaponi of Virginia use this time as a homecoming for tribal members to renew cultural and family ties. The Kiowa Tribe of Oklahoma holds Gourd Clan ceremonies on the 4th of July because the holiday coincides with their Sun Dance, which once took place during the hottest part of the year. The Lakota of South Dakota and Cheyenne of Oklahoma continue to have some of their annual Sun Dances on the weekends closest to the 4th of July to coincide with the celebration of their New Year. Some American Indians do not celebrate the 4th of July because of the negative consequences to Indian people throughout history, while others simply get together with family and have cookouts, like many non-Native American citizens.

The Declaration of Independence. It’s Not What You Think (Native News.Net, July 3, 2016)

Yes, believe it or not, a mere 30 lines beneath the statement “All men are created equal,” the Declaration of Independence refers to Natives as “merciless Indian Savages.” Making it abundantly clear that the only reason the founding fathers used the inclusive language “all men” is because they had a very narrow definition of who was and who was not human.


Native Events and Advocacy: Saving Bears Ears; Owamni Falls Fest; Supporting Indian-Produced Inde Film

Painting by Albert Bierstadt of Owmni Falls, pre-settlement. (Wikimedia Commons)

Join the 4th Annual Owamni Falling Water Festival on Saturday, July 29th from 1-5 p.m. at the Father Hennepin Bluffs Park, 420 Main St. SE. (Omani is the Dakota word for Falling Waters.) The festival is a free family event with indigenous food, art, music, dance  and exhibitors. This year’s line up includes the Hoka Hey Drum Group, Blue Dog, Keith Secola & Frank Waln!

The falls today. (Wikiemdia Commons)

For more history on Owamni, see this story from The Circle: A History of Owamni Yomni: Lock Closures Signal Healing for Mississippi River. It begins:

To the Dakota, the only waterfall on the Mississippi and its surroundings is known as Owamni Yomni (Whirlpool), revered for centuries as a place of tremendous spiritual power and inspiration. Wita Waste (Beautiful Island) the key above the falls, once covered in maple trees, was the site of annual sugaring camps. The island below, Wita Wanagi (Spirit Island) shrouded in mist and the peaceful din of rushing water, was a calm and sheltered place where women gave birth to generations of Dakota children. The people shared the area with a large population of Eagles, for whom the waters provided a plentiful source of fish.

Here is an Owammi Event Flyer. Continue reading

The President Who Pushed DAPL Down Standing Rock’s Throat Now Extols Native Sovereignty

President Trump showed little concern for water protectors or Native sovereignty when he fast-tracked the Dakota Access Pipeline in spite of environmental concerns. Now he claims to support Native American sovereignty by promising to relax regulations so Native nations can dig up natural resources on their reservations and create jobs.

To be clear, Indian Country is not monolithic its opposition to extractive industries that hurt Mother Earth. We wrote a piece April 5 titled: Indian Country is Divided on Mining Coal, Drilling for Oil; More Clashes Ahead. Yet Trump’s support for tribal sovereignty here seems dubious at best, a tool to support his pro-fossil fuel agenda.

Trump made his comments today while meeting with state and tribal leaders. Rather than do more interpretation, here are his words directly from a White House transcript.

…. I’m proud to have such a large gathering of tribal leaders here at the White House. I look forward to more government-to-government consultations with tribal leaders about the issues important to Indian Country. We love Indian Country, right?

Many of your lands have rich, natural resources that stand to benefit your people immensely. These untapped resources of wealth can help you build new schools, fix roads, improve your communities, and create jobs — jobs like you’ve never seen before. All you want is the freedom to use them, and that’s been the problem. It’s been very difficult, hasn’t it? It will be a lot easier now under the Trump administration.

Continue reading

Hundreds Opposed to Line 3 Tar Sands Pipeline Flood St. Paul Public Hearing

Crowd packs Line 3 public hearing.

I attended a public hearing on the Enbridge’s proposed Line 3 tar sands crude oil pipeline expansion Tuesday, an event that didn’t get a lot of media attention. The proposed pipeline would cross northern Minnesota, violating Anishinaabe treaty rights and threatening the Mississippi headwaters and many wild rice areas. I wrote about it for the Sierra Club North Star Chapter’s blog. Here’s the start:

If the public hearing on the Line 3 tar sands in St. Paul Tuesday is any bellwether, the project should be stopped – just like Sandpiper. The overwhelming majority of attendees spoke against the Line 3 plan, which threatens the Mississippi headwaters region and many clean lakes and rivers in northern Minnesota.

More than 350 people packed a large hall at St. Paul’s Intercontinental Hotel. More than 80 percent of speaker s opposed the project and criticized the draft Environmental Impact Statement (DEIS) under discussion. The Minnesota Department of Commerce, the lead agency on the DEIS, had allotted two hours for comment. So many people wanted to speak they added an extra half hour to the event and still didn’t get through the list of people who wanted to speak.

Sierra Club volunteer Jean Ross was one of nearly 50 people who did get the microphone. She asked the Department of Commerce tough questions about why the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources (DNR) and the Minnesota Pollution Control Agency (MPCA) didn’t have a stronger voice in decisions about Enbridge’s proposed Line 3 pipeline expansion. Ross said the DEIS fell short because it did not include a “no-build” option. “Be part of the future, not part of the past,” she said.

For the full post, click here.

Students Lead Effort to Dump “Ramsey” as School Name, Replace it with “Justice Page”

Alan Page
Alexander Ramsey

Students at Ramsey School Middle School in Southwest Minneapolis are asking the Minneapolis School Board to change the school name to Justice Page Middle School to honor Minnesota Vikings football great and retired Minnesota Supreme Court Justice Alan Page.

The School Board meets tonight to vote on the measure.

Students didn’t feel it was right to continue to honor Ramsey. Ramsey was one of the architects of the Treaty of Traverse des Sioux (1851) which forced the Dakota to give up their land, then cheated them out of their promised money to the benefit of fur traders. The U.S. government’s failure to live up the terms of the Treaty of Traverse des Sioux led to Dakota starvation and sparked the Dakota-U.S. War of 1862. Following the war, Ramsey pushed to exile all Dakota people from the state and offered bounties for Dakota scalps.

Students have a website called: RENAME Alexander Ramsey Middle School Information Site. It includes a statement of support from Gov. Mark Dayton:

​“I support the students, staff, and community at Alexander Ramsey Middle School, who are leading an important discussion on the name of their school. Governor Ramsey’s encouragement of violence against innocent people is appalling, and I repudiate it fully. That violent language and behavior may have been commonplace 150 years ago in Minnesota, but it is not acceptable or allowable today.

Action Alert: Public Meeting Tuesday to Stop Tar Sands Pipeline; Mayan Weavers Seek Stop to Cultural Appropriation

New Honor the Earth map on Enbridge Line 3.

Please attend a public hearing tomorrow, Tuesday, June 13, to speak against a proposed tar sands pipeline in northern Minnesota that threatens our environment and puts a disproportionate burden on the Anishinaabe (Ojibwe) people.

The Minnesota Department of Commerce recently released a draft Environmental Impact Statement (DEIS) on Enbridge Line 3 and is holding hearings to get public comments. The only metro area hearing is Tuesday, 6-9 p.m. at Intercontinental Hotel Saint Paul, 11 E. Kellogg Boulevard. The Department of Commerce will rewrite the DEIS based on public comment.

Enbridge has an existing Line 3 tar sands pipeline which is old and failing. It proposes to abandon it in the ground and install a larger pipeline along a new route. The new route crosses the Mississippi headwaters region and threatens 17 prime wild rice lakes.

The final EIS will play a significant role in the Minnesota Public Utilities Commission’s decision whether or not to approve the pipeline. Please come and make your voice heard!

Our previous blog, “Environmental Justice” Analysis of Proposed Crude Oil Pipeline is Flawed, Lacks Native Voices, pulls out a few key quotes from the draft EIS section on Environmental Justice:

Disproportionate and adverse impacts would occur to American Indian populations in the vicinity of the proposed [Line 3] Project.

Continue reading