Native People and Allies Pledge to Stop Keystone XL

I’m in Lower Brule, South Dakota, where elected tribal officials, spiritual leaders, Native grassroots organizations, youth groups, and traditional women’s societies have gathered with non-Native farmers, ranchers and others affected by the Keystone XL pipeline. That project to carry tar sands from shale fields in Canada to the Gulf of Mexico threatens our water, our livelihoods and our sacred sites.

We were together Monday when we heard the news Nebraska’s Public Services Commission gave approval to an alternative route for the pipeline.

Yes, we were sad, and angry. But within minutes, we went from being sad to being strategic. That decision opens a new terrain to continue the fight to prevent the building of KXL, and it can be stopped if we build on the strong relationships between Native leadership and non-Native farmers and ranchers. We can leverage the power of organized prayer in a values-led campaign that puts Mother Earth above profit-hungry fossil fuel corporations.

What We Learned in Standing Rock

Many of us are veterans of Standing Rock. We learned so much during those long, cold months at the Oceti Sakowin camp, in our struggle to stop the Dakota Access Pipeline.

We won at Standing Rock, even though the oil is now flowing. Because over 400 tribes came together to stand with the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe for their sovereign, moral and inherent right to protect the Missouri River and Mother Earth.

Native peoples have a unique role to play in building a movement that defends the planet, and in creating a future where we all can live in healthy communities.

Joining Our Struggle

What began as a struggle to protect the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe’s water supply and sacred sites grew into an international movement to protect the water for the 17 million people who live, work and play along the shores of the Missouri. Along the way, we were joined by by thousands more from all around the world.

As we believe, we’re all related, and that all we do in life, and nature has an impact on every one of us.

So the mood at our gathering today is that in the present, we can act on the wisdom and knowledge of our ancestors, and protect future generations from destruction if we work strategically. We must lead with love for humanity, for community and for Mother Earth.

We must plan and organize, not just politically, but also with the prayers that will give us the strength and courage to do what we need to do to stop this pipeline. Tribal leadership and Native communities are the keys to winning this struggle.

TransCanada Knows

The truth is that TransCanada, the pipeline’s builders, aren’t happy. Nebraska allowed their project to proceed, but they didn’t get what they wanted. A new route means TransCanada has to decide if the costs of proceeding are worth it.

TransCanada’s investors must face questions of the viability of building a pipeline that has been fought for years as oil prices have dropped. Quarterly earnings come out December 9, and their shareholders meet on December 15. According to the New York Times, they still haven’t decided whether they will proceed with building the pipeline.

The price of oil is still low. And the movement we started at Standing Rock succeeded in the divestment of $5 billion from the Dakota Access Pipeline. City governments, union pensions and individuals were convinced by the power of the Oceti Sakowin Camp that it was immoral to have their money fund that pipeline. We can do the same with Keystone XL, and TransCanada’s investors know it.

What We See

So what we see here in Lower Brule is that all up and down the new proposed route, there are possibilities to challenge the building of Keystone XL.

Sadly, we’re also gathered near where 210,000 gallons are leaking from the Keystone 1 pipeline. TransCanada has proven that they’re not prepared to deal with this kind of calamity, nor can they protect the precious aquifer and wells that are critical for ranching, irrigating crops and drinking water.

The movement to stop Keystone XL has momentum, because it is grounded in the Indigenous practices of living in harmony with nature. Ourstrategy and tactics are rooted in the inherent responsibility of indigenous communities to do whatever is necessary to protect the land, water and air from destruction.

Our Power Has Grown

Response to this week’s KXL permit decision comes out of years of united resistance between Native and non-Native landowners. Our power has grown since Standing Rock. People now understand that if we build unity, if we build a movement with compassion for Mother Earth and concern for Humankind, we can win the hearts and minds of a broad cross section of people in this country.

And if we beat Keystone XL, we can disrupt the pro-fossil fuel campaign coming from the White House. We will signal an unmistakable challenge to all those running for office in states where American Indians are concentrated that the Native vote is the swing vote, which will be mobilized all the way from prayer camps to the voting booth.

There’s a very keen awareness that this fight is important not only for those who live along the pipeline, but also for how our country can become less dependent on fossil fuels, and we can move towards the protection of our planet.

A Family Reunion

So here in Lower Brule, we’re holding a family reunion: veterans of the first successful KXL fight, the Standing Rock family, with newcomers, Natives with non-Natives. Strategizing, sharing stories and renewing our shared commitment to protecting the sacred from desecration by fossil fuels has made us even stronger.

But the coming battles are going to be new, not like the ones in the past, and will demand all our strength. The traditional indigenous practice is that you must respond to adversity with courage, humility, compassion and love of community as we always have.

The NO KXL movement is being built from a spiritual starting point that’s rooted in the traditional Lakota, Dakota culture and origin stories, in the grassroots and in sovereign treaty rights that have been so often ignored.

Wherever You Are

Together with our allies like 350.org, Greenpeace, and Rainforest Action Network, we “Promise to Protect the Sacred.” So if the need arises, if we have exhausted all local avenues, when we need assistance, people from all over the world will be called to come to Nebraska and South Dakota to physically stop the building of this pipeline.

Wherever you are, please take a moment to remember think about how you can be a part of this historic movement to stop Keystone XL.

Native peoples have a legal, moral, spiritual and inherent right to be caretakers of the planet. The sacred teachings of our cultures reflect the resilience that has brought us this far, by prioritizing kinship, reciprocity and community building. It’s about preserving relationships and living in balance, with all things – natural, human and animal.

Reprinted from CommonDreams.org

Judith LeBlanc Speaking at the Women’s March

Judith LeBlanc, Director of the Native Organizers Alliance spoke at the historic Women’s March in Washington, DC, January 21, 2017.


Here are her remarks:

My name is Judith Le Blanc and I am a proud member of the Caddo Tribe of Oklahoma and the Director of the Native Organizers Alliance. And I march for my daughter Jenna, and my nieces Nora and Marie and Victoria.

We march today for Mother Earth because water is life. Standing Rock has shown the world, our faith, our prayers, people power is stronger than rubber bullets. Across Indian Country generations have suffered from contaminated air, land and water after fossil fuel corporations ran with their profits. That is real carnage President Trump.

President Trump, we have heard you are considering privatizing Indian land for oil. You will not steal our land. We have been here before. Today, Native women are here, representing many nations. And we are marching in prayer. We are marching with our ancestors in our hearts. It’s a Standing Rock moment.

And President Trump, let me break it down for you, a Standing Rock moment means our power is rooted in love for humanity. Our strength is drawn from our ancestors. Our medicine is stronger than rubber bullets of water cannons. Standing together, people united, we are people who are here today standing with Standing Rock, standing with Flint, Michigan, standing with Oak Flats, standing with immigrants united.

Today, indigenous people — water protectors all over the world — are saying no to pipelines, no to corporate plunder of sacred sites, no to wars for oil. President Trump, the movement that we’re building is driven by faith, by hope, by love and prayers. We will stop the carnage of Mother Earth. Water is sacred. Water is life. Women are life. Thank you.

Watch the video at CSPAN

NOA joins Standing Rock demonstrations at Clinton HQ

Join the Native Organizers Alliance, Indigenous Environmental Network, Indigenous Peoples Power Project and 10 Standing Rock high school students at Noon Oct 27 at the Brooklyn Promenade at the end of Pierre Street for a water ceremony.

Hillary Clinton-Stand with Standing Rock

We, the young people of Oceti Sakowin, the Seven Council Fires, and the Standing Rock Sioux Nation are calling for Hillary Clinton — the next President of the United States of America– to stand with us against the Dakota Access Pipeline.

On Thursday, October 27th, 2016, Our youth delegation will travel from unceded territory on the Sovereign Standing Rock Nation in North Dakota to Hillary Clinton’s Campaign Headquarters in New York City to respectfully demand that she Speak Out against DAPL, Commit to standing with Standing Rock, and stand On the right side of history.

THIS IS A CALL OUT TO ALL WATER PROTECTORS FOR SOLIDARITY ACTIONS. THE TIME TO PROTECT THE FUTURE IS NOW.

This Thursday, as Our relatives stay Strong On the frontlines in Cannonball, We are asking everyone across Turtle Island to mobilize at a Hillary campaign Office near you. Organize. Rally. Flood her with phone calls. Plan a prayerful demonstration. Call your local media. Make the frontlines visible in your town. Make Sure Hillary Can’t look away.

Mni Wiconi. Water is life

Garrett Joseph

James Hairychin

Maya Monroe Runnels

William Clayton Brownotter Jr.

Kenyon Wallace Uses Arrow

Daniel Stephan Grassrope

Marilyn Uli Ann Fox

Annalee Rain Yellow Hammer

Gracey Rae Claymore

Adam Jacob Palaniuk

Tokata Chase Iron Eyes

Victory at Standing Rock Shows Power of People & Protest

For Immediate Release
September 9, 2016

Contact: Judith LeBlanc, judithleblanc1@gmail.com, 917-806-8775 Kathy Mulady, 206-992-8787, k.mulady@peoplesaction.org Jacob Swenson-Lengyel, 312-316-3973, jacob.sl@peoplesaction.org

Native Organizers Praise Government Decision to Halt Construction of Dakota Access Pipeline

Washington, D.C. – After the disappointing decision by a federal judge on Friday to deny an injunction protecting Native lands threatened by the Dakota Access Pipeline, the Obama administration issued a statement halting pipeline construction. The statement is welcomed by the thousands of Native and non-Native activists who have gathered in protest against the project.

The joint statement today by the Departments of the Army, Justice and Interior halts construction in the area around Lake Oahe in North Dakota while the concerns raised by tribal leaders are properly reviewed. Earlier in the day, the ruling of the District Court would have allowed construction to continue despite the threat to sacred sites and the drinking water of the nearby Standing Rock Sioux Tribe.

“The joint statement by the DOJ and other agencies makes it clear that the process used to approve this pipeline’s construction was insufficient and did not fully take into account the environmental impact or the rights of the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe and other Native peoples,” said Judith LeBlanc, director of the Native Organizers Alliance and a member of the Caddo Tribe of Oklahoma.

“Tribes from across Indian Country have drawn the line here with the largest show of unity and grassroots power in our history,” said LeBlanc. “The fight isn’t over. American Indians will continue to lead this movement to save Mother Earth because our ancestors are depending on us to protect the water and land for our people, and for humanity” said LeBlanc.

“We cannot and should not allow our culture, our land, and Mother Earth to be put at risk for private gain.” “The administration clearly recognizes the inalienable right of tribal sovereignty when it comes to protecting our people and Mother Earth,” said LeBlanc.

LeeAnn Hall, co-executive director of People’s Action Institute, a partner with the Native Organizers Alliance, said the decision to stop construction never would have happened without the enormous courage of Native people and supporters from around the country who stood with the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe to defend sacred lands and the water we all depend on.

“This Native-led movement proves the power of people, and the power of peaceful direct action,” Hall said. “It was the people who won this important moment.”

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Native Organizers Alliance, a project of People’s Action Institute, is dedicated to building the organizing capacity of Native organizers and groups building grassroots power for change among native peoples across the continent.

People’s Action Institute is a national organization fighting for democracy and economic fairness, with more than a million volunteers in 29 states. From family farms to big cities, from coast to coast, we push for community over greed, justice over racism, and people and planet over corporations.

Racial Slurs Have No Place in Football

The leaves are changing. The scent of pumpkin spice lattes is in the air. In short, it’s football season. And like millions of my fellow Americans, I love football. But I’m also American Indian. So for me, football season also means hearing a racial slur all the time. It’s used by sports teams around the country — and by Washington, D.C.’s National Football League team in particular. You may know that franchise as the Redskins. I refer to it as the R-word. Natives have been calling on sports teams to do away with the slur for 50 years, along with other mocking mascots and racist caricatures of Natives employed by teams of all kinds. Professional outfits should know better, but so should schools and communities. So I celebrated recently, along with much of Indian Country, when California Governor Jerry Brown signed the California Racial Mascots Act into law. It banned the state’s public schools from using the R-word to name sports teams. Schools in four California counties will soon have to rebrand their buildings, logos, uniforms, and mascots. “We cannot change history or erase the past,” said Dahkota Kicking Bear Brown, president of Native Education Raising Dedicated Students. “But today, as Native students, we shall celebrate this step in the right direction of improving our educational experiences.” I agree. Now if we can just convince our nation’s leaders to do the same. My hope faded, though, when I heard Republican presidential candidate Jeb Bush use the R-word not once, not twice, but three times during an interview in October. Then there’s GOP candidate Donald Trump, who proclaimed that Indians are “extremely proud” of the term. Wrong. For Native children, the R-word and its associated mascots are demeaning and disparaging, eroding their self-confidence and self-image. Unsurprisingly, peer-reviewed studies have suggested that racist mascots can hurt the performance of Native students. It’s an additional mockery for an already suffering group of young people whose second-leading cause of death is suicide. And it’s an added insult to people whose treaty rights are still being violated, even today. Native Americans are regularly confronted with attempts to turn our sacred religious lands over to corporations for profit. In Oak Flat, Arizona, some 2,400 acres of national forest land — protected since 1955 as Apache sacred land — is being handed over to Resolution Copper, a British-Australian mining conglomerate. Meanwhile Natives continue to protest the Keystone XL pipeline, which would funnel oil mined from tar sands nearly 1,800 miles from Alberta, Canada to the Gulf of Mexico through multiple sovereign Indian territories. The U.S. government never negotiated with the tribes when charting the pipeline, despite the impact it will have on their lands. And in spite of long-standing poverty, gross health disparities between Natives and non-Natives, and ongoing discrimination, federal funding for Indian health care, housing, and education programs remains paltry. Most people have the good sense not to use the R-word to our faces. So why would you plaster it across a stadium? Dropping the R-word alone won’t solve these deep crises in Indian Country. But it’s a crucial step toward restoring the equity, dignity, and democracy taken from the first people of this land. At the very least, it’ll let us all get back to enjoying football — without the nasty reminder that the rights of American Indians still aren’t fully recognized.
Judith Le Blanc is the Director of the Native Organizers Alliance and an enrolled member of the Caddo Tribe of Oklahoma. Distributed by OtherWords.org.

October 2015 Alaska Native Organizers Training

Sponsored by Resisting Environmental Destruction on Indigenous Lands (REDOIL), the Indigenous Leadership Institute (ILI) and the Native Organizers Alliance (NOA).

Resisting Environmental Destruction on Indigenous Lands (REDOIL), Indigenous Leadership Institute (ILI), and Native Organizers Alliance (NOA) will host the first ever Alaska Native Organizers Training this fall in Anchorage! This is a four day intensive workshop on community organizing that covers building and leveraging people-power, campaign planning, community led policy change, direct action and how to use our stories to win battles.

This workshop focuses on skill building while recognizing the particular aspects of organizing in Alaska. Community organizing is needed more than ever here in Alaska. This training is an opportunity to bolster community organizing efforts through relationship building, peer support and coordination with other Natives who are doing community organizing.

This workshop prepares organizers for leading a community driven campaign on the issues and concerns that are relevant to Alaska.

When: October 12- 15, 2015

Where: Anchorage, Alaska

Who: This workshop is for people involved in social and environmental justice efforts in Alaska – such as community volunteers, Policy Directors, Executive Directors, Community Engagement Coordinators, Community Organizers, folks who want to work to make change for and with their people!

How to participate: Space is limited. Those interested should complete the short (& simple) application form  http://goo.gl/forms/5e7ff41KDv by October 1.

Cost: Free to all selected to participate! Travel, housing and some meals are included.

For More Information: Contact: Enei Begay (Indigenous Leadership Institute) at eneibegaye@gmail.com or call (907) 374-5950

The training is sponsored by REDOIL https://www.facebook.com/redoilalaska, ILI www.indigenousleadership.org and NOA http://www.nativeorganizing.org/

Thanks to the Chorus Foundation for its generous support.

2015 Native Organizers Training a Big Success!

Thirty organizers and activists from across Indian Country came together in Seattle in June for a special training opportunity hosted by the Native Organizers Alliance: the annual intensive four-day Native Organizing Training. Grassroots organizing is both an art and a science. In Indian Country, the art of organizing is reflected in the Native-led action against oil drilling in the Arctic by the ‘Kayaktivists’ in the “Paddle in Seattle”, and the round dance flash mobs of Idle No More. In four days our aim was to study the science of organizing – Native style, in keeping with our traditions and with our history. In our jam-packed, daylong sessions, we explored ways to build Native organizers’ skills to meet the unique challenges of organizing in Native communities, on reservations, and in urban and rural centers. We shared lessons, best practices and examined the techniques for building a stronger grassroots movement for social change in Indian Country. In the end some participants said we needed another day, and most agreed we needed more breaks and time to digest the information. Good advice for next year’s Native Organizing Training! While exploring the nuts and bolts of outreach, leadership development, strategy and tactics, the participants worked to find the unique, yet critical elements of community engagement that flow from Indian Country’s history and traditions. After four intensive days together, it is clear that here is so much more to learn about how to deepen our understanding of Native community organizing. This is just the beginning! The future of Indian Country rests on growing a broad infrastructure of Native organizers and activists who facilitate campaigns that get at the root causes of the lack of jobs, healthy communities and protect treaty rights, sovereignty and Mother Earth from destruction. The training provided an opportunity to share stories of the tremendous challenges our communities face and our vision and passion for bringing about structural change that will help Native communities not only survive, but also thrive. The participants were hungry for more opportunity to go deeper into the challenges they face on the ground. Next year’s sessions will need to provide that opportunity in various ways. Some participants asked that we now consider regional trainings that go beyond Native Organizing 101, to tackle more real life, complicated strategic challenges in Indian Country. Some suggested segments focused on political empowerment related to advocacy, voter engagement and lobbying. In their written evaluations most said that the most important part of the experience was getting together with others who share a common outlook on movement building in Indian Country. Especially impressive were the younger participants,coming from cutting edge Indian Country experiences. For instance, one of the activists is a part of the occupation to protect sacred Apache land from uranium mining in Oak Flat, AZ. Another was a Native radio talk show host, and one young man will be headed to the White House for the Native youth gathering in the next week. One woman representing the “AIM generation” (radicalized in the 1970s) is a traditional Dine organizer. She has been fighting for decades for compensation from the coal and uranium mining companies for the contamination of Navajo land, water and air. She felt uplifted by the energy of the young organizers in the room, who are just beginning the fight for justice in their communities. One of the most popular sessions of the training was on power mapping. David Bender, the community organizer for the American Indian Center of Chicago, said learning how to map the potential allies and likely opponents in an organizing campaign will help him prepare both his leaders and grassroots members to think and engage more strategically in their work. At the end of fast-paced week, participants – whether they work in small villages in Alaska, on the Navajo or Hopi Reservations, or in the heart of Chicago, Portland or Billings – went home inspired by the knowledge that they are a part of something bigger. Our hope is that the participants will continue to work together with support from the Native Organizers Alliance to amplify a stronger Native voice on key issues at the national level. One young participant said, “Nothing is more important for organizers than having a collective with so many common experiences. I see myself working closely with my fellow students and the trainers as we go forward.” The sheer demand for this training says something powerful about the groundswell of the grassroots upsurge in Indian Country: in a few short weeks, more than 130 people submitted applications for the 30 available slots. Now the work will continue at home and at the Native Organizers Alliance. Some of the participants will help organize local Native trainings in Alaska, Montana, and South Dakota. One participant even volunteered to become a Native Organizers Alliance trainer. On the national level, we are organizing a national advisory board and growing a circle of partner organizations that we will provide with trainings, and technical support such as research and joint fundraising to keep grassroots organizing moving in Indian Country. Personally, it was inspiring to hear the journeys so many have taken to carry on and preserve – despite many difficulties – our history, cultures, and future. It is extremely important in our communities to widen the circle of those who can take action that will in many ways help our people to heal with pride and commitment to our common struggle. I was also struck by the heightened awareness of the need for unity in Indian Country. There is so much more that unites us than divides us. The unity that exists between those who organize on the Rez, in rural areas or urban centers, and those who continue the struggle for tribal recognition, serves as the key to building alliances with the vast cross section of people in the U.S. – those who can and must be a part of the movement for justice in Indian Country. The curriculum, preparation, and training, was a collaborative effort and would not have been possible without Ozawa Bineshi Albert (former organizer for the Center for Community Change and Native American Voters Alliance in New Mexico) and Donavon Hawk (activist and leader from Montana), my co-facilitators. With much love and respect to all who participated in the 2015 Native Organizing Training. A new circle of movement building in Indian Country has begun, thank you!