Native Americans and COVID-19 Town Hall event features indigenous leaders from health, US and tribal government, civil society, and other sectors. Judith LeBlanc, NOA Director, will discuss her panel “Pathways Forward.”
Eleven Presidential candidates took part over the two days, responding to questions from panels of Native tribal leaders and grassroots activists.
You can watch videos of the event below.
The Native Organizers Alliance is honored to stand in unity with all those who are making a commitment to Mother Earth by pledging a “Promise to Protect”. Guided by on the ground leadership and vision, NOA has been helping to create the training program for the upcoming “Promise to Protect Training Tour”
“Today, a coalition of Indigenous leaders, farmers and ranchers, and their allies announced a training tour to prepare for creative resistance against the Keystone XL pipeline and other fossil fuel projects. The “Promise to Protect” Tour, named for the commitment made by more than 25,000 people to mobilize against the Keystone XL pipeline, will stop in 10 cities across the U.S. and several reservations along the pipeline route.” https://nokxlpromise.org/training-tour/
Judith Le Blanc (Caddo Tribe of Oklahoma), Director, Native Organizers Alliance: “NOA is honored to be a part of the circle of the Promise to Protect Tour. No power is greater than unity in action to protect Mother Earth. Our power grows from building community grounded in the traditional values of relationality and reciprocity. Native peoples coming together in alliance with all who put the natural world and humanity before fossil fuel corporate projects is the only path to ending the threat of the Keystone XL pipeline. The Promise to Protect Training Tour will grow the grassroots power to ensure the sovereign right of the Oceti Shakowin tribes to decide, NoKXL!”
NOA will be posting updates throughout the “Promise to Protect” training tour.
He later told VOA, “I basically wanted to show the recurring nature of history. It’s a story so familiar.”
President Donald Trump’s “zero tolerance” immigration policy has separated nearly 2,000 youths from their parents since April, triggering outcry from many Native Americans who find parallels in their own history with the U.S. government.
Author, speaker and storyteller Gyasi Ross, who comes from the Blackfeet Nation and how lives on the Port Madison Indian Reservation near Seattle, Washington, suggested on Twitter that the policy is no surprise:
White liberal friends stop saying that separating children from their parents is “unAmerican.” That is ahistorical & insensitive as hell to the 100ks of Native people who were separated from their children by official US policy from boarding schools & the Indian Adoption Project.— (@BigIndianGyasi) June 16, 2018
Native Americans are no strangers to the break-up of families.
“Most [non-Native] Americans do not know their own history, partly because any history that was embarrassing was not taught in school,” said Oglala Lakota journalist Tim Giago, editor of Native Sun News Today. “Native Americans were taken from their parents starting in the late 1800s and shipped to places like Carlisle, PA and Genoa, Neb. to Indian boarding schools. We are still suffering from the trauma it caused.
Fellow journalist Vi Waln, editor of the Lakota Times, expressed a sense of solidarity with those detained by U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement.
“Many Indigenous people are praying for the [detained undocumented] children to be reunited with their families and for the United States to do the right thing,” Waln said. “But we know from experience that this might not happen.”
O.J. Semans, a Rosebud Sioux tribe member and executive director of South Dakota-based voting-rights group Four Directions, echoed Waln’s comment, remembering another government policy which encouraged placement of Native American children in non-Native foster families.
“In the 1970s, we had 25 to 35 percent of tribal children ripped away from their families. It took until 1978 to get Congress to create a law, the Indian Child Welfare Act, to curtail the abductions,” he said, predicting that the current policy of separating migrant and refugee children from their parents will leave lasting scars.
“The trauma of children being ripped away from their parents — the only true love they have — will haunt their dreams and memories till the day they die,” Semans said.
One Native American mother offered heartfelt sympathy for the immigrant parents.
“I just can’t imagine my children being taken away and not knowing if I will ever see them again,” said a member of the Kickapoo Tribe in Kansas, who asked that her name not be used.
She said she believes the policy is racist: “Do you think we’ll see this happening to Canadians illegally crossing the border? No!”
Jefferson Keel, president of the National Congress of American Indians, released a statement Tuesday which said, in part, “Congress and the President should take heed of such abhorrent mistakes from the past and actually live the moral values this country proclaims to embody by immediately ending this policy and reuniting the affected children with their parents. Families belong together.”
But not all Native Americans oppose Trump’s policy.
“I think we as a government have the right to detain anyone who comes here illegally,” said Rick Cuevas, a disenrolled member of the Pechanga Band of Luiseño Mission Indians in California and author of the Original Pechanga blog.
“And those who are going after the Trump administration now were the same ones protecting Barack Obama as he was separating children from parents. His policies allowed 50,000 unaccompanied minors into the country,” he added.
A surge in migration of unaccompanied minors in 2014 led the Obama Administration to place unaccompanied minors in closed housing units until they could be transferred to family in the United States while they awaited court proceedings.
Trump has blamed Democrats for the current policy, announced in April, citing a “horrible” laws that call for children of families attempting to illegally cross the U.S. border to be taken from their parents.
However, there is no U.S. law or court decision that mandates that action.
The Department of Homeland Security (DHS) says it has no policy on separation, but that children and parents may be separated in situations in which “DHS cannot ascertain the parental relationship, when DHS determines that a child may be at risk with the presumed parent or legal guardian, or if a parent or legal guardian is referred for criminal prosecution, including for illegal entry.”
In 2017, U.S. border agents apprehended more than 41,000 unaccompanied minors attempting to cross the southwest border of the U.S., and U.S. customs officials report that between October 2017 to March 31, 2018, nearly 40,000 families attempted the same crossing.
Reprinted from Voice of America News
An Indigenous-led coalition is fundraising to install solar panels along the route of TransCanada’s Keystone XL pipeline to protest the project and provide renewable energy to family farms and Native communities in Nebraska and South Dakota.
“In the fight against dirty tar sands oil from crossing Indigenous treaty lands, we must also take moments to highlight the things we are fighting for,” explained Indigenous Environmental Network campaigner Dallas Goldtooth. “We will not only build renewable energy in America’s breadbasket, on Indigenous lands for Indigenous people, demonstrating the goals of a just transition towards sustainable energy, but we will build it in the face of the Keystone XL pipeline.”
“The fight against Keystone XL has always been about more than one pipeline—we’re demanding a world free of dirty fossil fuels,” added 350.org executive director May Boeve. “Putting solar in the path of this pipeline models the massive overhaul our energy system needs to stop the worst of climate change.”
This effort is just the latest phase of the Solar XL campaign launched last year by the Indigenous Environmental Network, Native Organizers Alliance, Brave Heart Society, Dakota Rural Action, Bold Nebraska, and 350.org. The groups installed an earlier round of solar arrays last summer.
The activists and landowners—who are also fighting the pipeline’s development in court—are optimistic about the message the new solar installations will send to politicians and the public alike, and compared the effort to mass demonstrations against the Dakota Access Pipeline.
“The powerful thing about alliances for mother earth is when they create a space to unlearn fear and to relearn leadership. This was true at Standing Rock, and Solar XL is another chance to learn and build a shining example of the future we want,” said Faith Spotted Eagle, a member of the Yankton Sioux Nation and the Brave Heart Society. “Our efforts to fight Keystone XL combines the power of solar with the power of the people.”
With a fossil fuel-friendly Republican Party in control of the White House and Congress, anti-Keystone XL activists continue to emphasize the importance of building broad opposition to the dirty energy industry and the politicians that back it.
“While Trump and fossil fuel executives continue to deny the writing on the wall, our resistance must grow stronger,” declared Boeve, referencing moves such as the administration’s attempt to save struggling coal and nuclear plants with a taxpayer-funded bailout. “We already know the just way forward is with renewable energy solutions like solar and wind, now we need the will.”
“Projects like Solar XL, built with grassroots financial support and owned by Indigenous communities and family farmers, are our best hope for a future of sustainable energy that delivers us from dependence on fossil fuels and the harm caused by extractive industries,” concluded Native Organizers Alliance director Judith LeBlanc Caddo.
The coalition has produced a video sharing the stories of families and communities who would be impacted by the pipeline:
Reprinted from CommonDreams.org
Flagstaff, Ariz. • Election sites far from reservations. Poll workers who don’t speak tribal languages. Unequal access to early voting sites.
Native Americans say they’ve encountered a wide range of obstacles that makes voting difficult. Advocates have been spending the last few months gathering stories from around Indian Country in hopes that tribal members can wield more influence in elections, and improve conditions among populations that encounter huge disparities in health, education and economics.
“Some of the problems they were facing actually were issues we thought we’d taken care of long ago,” said OJ Semans, a Rosebud Sioux tribal member and executive director of Four Directions. “If you don’t keep your eye open and the communication open, things will reverse.”
Tribes successfully have challenged what they see as discriminatory voting practices around the United States. In Utah, a federal judge recently ordered school board and county commission districts redrawn after the Navajo Nation argued they were racially gerrymandered. In Nevada, the Pyramid Lake and Walker River Paiute tribes won a legal battle to improve early voting access on their reservations. Alaska Natives reached a settlement in a case that includes increased language assistance for three census areas.
Tribes often turn to the 1965 Voting Rights Act to try and force changes when working with local elections administrators doesn’t work, said James Tucker, a pro-bono attorney for the Native American Rights Fund. The group is part of a coalition holding field hearings across the country ahead of the next round of redistricting and to compile what it believes will be the most comprehensive look at voting rights abuses in Indian Country.
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.
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
LeBlanc is the Director of the Native Organizers Alliance, and Kauffman wrote the new book Direct Action: Protest and the Reinvention of American Radicalism. Both were leaders of United for Peace and Justice, the main coalition against the U.S. war in Iraq in the 2000s. The discussion was moderated by Charles Lenchner of Organizing 2.0 and The People for Bernie Sanders.
Direct Action: Protest and the Invention of American Radicalism with author L.A. Kauffman, Judith LeBlanc and Charles Lenchner
Posted by Organizing 2.0 on Saturday, April 8, 2017