GIC Issues - CLIMATE POLICY
Honoring and recognizing the strategies founded and developed by our ancestors to resist the military industrial complex, GIC will work with tribal nations to oppose extractive industry and pipelines that, by definition, are acts of cultural genocide committed against our peoples, when those developments threaten our sacred sites, treaty and ancestral lands, and will potentially wreak environmental devastation on vital rivers, aquifers, and fragile ecosystems. We, the united First People of the Earth, were and remain the stewards of the land and renew our vow to carry that sacred obligation in defense of our Mother, the Earth, and all born of her body and nurtured at her breast who are no longer heard amidst the dissonance of industrialization and corporate domination.
From contact, the onslaught of conquest and colonization was inflicted through the weaponization of the systematic rape and defilement of our Mother, the Earth, and the systematic rape and victimization of indigenous women. These inseparable acts of violence persist and have enabled the destructive exploitation of areas such as Alberta’s “Tar Sands” and the construction of pipelines that subjugate land and communities to transport this and similar virulent strains. GIC rejects these incarnations of patriarchy and misogyny that underpin the ideology of Manifest Destiny, and which continue to be imposed upon us today. To do any less would be a betrayal of our children and future generations.
One of the seminal moments in the founding of GIC was the inter- tribal, cross-border “Reclamation of Independence” in the sacred Black Hills on July 4, 2017. There, tribal nations from across North America gathered to sign the historic Declaration Opposing Oil Sands Expansion and the Construction of the Keystone-XL Pipeline and the Grizzly Bear Treaty. It solidified the unity between the tribal nations that comprise the Treaty Alliance Against Tar Sands Expansion, and other prominent “defenders of the sacred.” The Keystone-XL declaration is believed to be the most comprehensive tribal document on the issue to date, and we urge all to read it. The now-Trump approved Keystone-XL Pipeline will transport the most toxic form of crude across our collective treaty lands from the “Tar Sands” in Alberta to Steele City, Nebraska, where it will fuse with the existing Keystone Pipeline and be carried to the Texas Gulf Coast.
The cumulative effects of extractive industry operations represented by those such as Keystone and the Dakota Access Pipeline (DAPL) over the past two decades are now considered by many to be inflicting a “slow industrial genocide” on First Nations people and communities not just in this hemisphere, but throughout all four. In North America, the construction and expansion of pipelines by TransCanada, Enbridge, Kinder Morgan and other multinationals is and will continue to extend the cultural and environmental assault being faced by our people in the four directions beyond the Tar Sands – west, to First Nations in British Columbia; east, to Anishinaabeg Nations in the Great Lakes region of the US; south, to the Očhéthi Šakówiŋ (the Seven Council Fires of the Great Sioux Nation); and farther, to the Ponca and other tribal nations of the plains, en route to the Texas Gulf Coast, the terminus of TransCanada’s Keystone Pipelines.
In respect to Keystone-XL and DAPL, the motivation for the Trump Administration’s approval of both is not difficult to see: President Trump’s known investments indicate that his monetary interests will be served by the construction of both the Keystone-XL and Dakota Access pipelines, as will those of members of his cabinet. President Trump has interests in Energy Transfer Partners, owner of Dakota Access, and stock in Phillips 66, which will control a 25% share of DAPL upon completion. The Trump campaign received donations from Kelcy Warren, CEO of Energy Transfer Partners, and both Warren and Energy Transfer Partners were major financial contributors to former Texas Governor Rick Perry’s 2012 presidential bid. Governor Perry recently transferred from the board of Energy Transfer Partners to Secretary of Energy in President Trump’s cabinet. Oasis Petroleum, a principal operator in the Bakken, is Secretary of the Interior Ryan Zinke’s largest campaign contributor. As Montana’s US Congressman, Secretary Zinke’s record shows consistent support for extractive industries. Trump’s EPA Administrator, Scott Pruitt, has a history of representing the interests of extractive energy. While serving as Oklahoma Attorney General, Pruitt went so far as to reissue letters written by energy companies to further their agendas on his office letterhead.
Senator John Barrasso, Chairman of the US Senate Committee on Environment and Public Works, who also sits on the Senate Committee on Energy and Natural Resources, has been one of Capitol Hill’s most vocal Keystone-XL boosters. The Wyoming senator chaired the RNC’s Platform Committee for the Republican Party’s 2016 convention, at which Trump accepted the party’s nomination for president. Under Barrasso’s leadership, the Republican Party platform advocated returning public lands to state jurisdiction, a policy position lobbied for by multi-billionaire energy moguls, Charles and David Koch. Barrasso’s committee called for Congress to “immediately pass universal legislation providing a timely and orderly mechanism requiring the federal government to convey certain federally controlled public lands to the states” for “ranching, mining or forestry through private ownership.” Of all the 535
Members of Congress, Senator Barrasso ranks seventh among those who benefit the most from campaign contributions from fracking interests; and overall, the oil and gas sector are Barrasso’s second highest contributor. Among Barrasso’s donors, Chevron owns 20% of the Athabasca Oil Sands Project, and Marathon is heavily invested in the Oil Sands and the Dakota Access Pipeline. Koch Oil Sands Operating ULC (KOSO) owns 1.1 million acres of Alberta’s Oil Sands and has reportedly invested some $53-million in Keystone-XL lobbying efforts.
Russian oligarch Roman Abramovich, one of President Vladimir Putin’s closest political allies and a close associate of President Trump and his family, also stands to profit from K-XL and DAPL. Abramovich controls EVRAZ, which has already manufactured 40% of the required pipe to be laid. The Keystone-XL Pipeline is designed to feature a supplemental appendage, the Bakken Marketline, to facilitate the transportation of fracked oil from the Bakken with Oil Sands crude. In 2015, Abramovich invested $15 million in Propell Technologies Group for the production of Plasma Pulse Technology (PPT), a supposed “clean” fracking technology, that was developed at the St. Petersburg Mining Institute and the St. Petersburg Scientific Research Institute for Electrophysical Apparatus. Propell has been a major booster of the Bakken, the prime market for PPT. The Dakota Access Pipeline will run from the Bakken to Patoka, Illinois.
In response to Trump’s Executive Memoranda of January 24, 2017, Abramovich’s company stated, “EVRAZ North America applauds the Trump administration for advancing the Keystone-XL and Dakota Access pipelines.”
GIC will be unyielding in demands that Free Prior Informed Consent (FPIC) be honored in all instances with indigenous populations prior to the onset of a project on ancestral, sacred, and treaty lands, or the exploitation of resources within a tribal nation’s current and ancestral territory. As of January 2018, FPIC and required consultation protocols were still being abrogated in accelerated uranium and gold mining operations in the Black Hills. In October 2017, federal administrators concluded that the Nuclear Regulatory Commission failed to appropriately recognize and address fundamental concerns submitted by the Great Sioux Nation during the licensing process for uranium mines in the southern Black Hills.
In January 2018, the South Dakota Board of Minerals and Environment approved permits for gold mining operations to begin in the Black Hills on the edge of sacred Pe’Sla, a foundational site in Lakota-Dakota cosmology and ceremonial lifeways. Mineral Mountain Resources began drilling on its “Rochford Gold Project” the first week of February 2018. “The Target: Another Homestake Mine,” the company proclaims. Until its closure in 2002, Homestake was the largest and deepest gold mine in North America. The Homestake deposit was “discovered” by Fred and Moses Manuel, Alex Engh and Hank Harney in April 1876, during the illegal Black Hills Gold Rush, an invasion inspired by the 1874 Custer Expedition into the Black Hills. Both the expedition and subsequent invasion contravened the Fort Laramie Treaty of 1868, and set the devastating course of dispossession and oppression that prevails to the present-day for the 1868 treaty signatories, the Lakota-Dakota, Cheyenne, and Arapaho. GIC will not stand idle and let this tragic and treacherous history be repeated and the consequences inflicted upon our children and future generations.
Sadly, these examples are not unique. This pattern and precedent is replicated worldwide, and is literally life or death to many. GIC is committed to defending uncontacted tribes. GIC recognizes that what will befall these tribes upon contact, previously devastated our ancestors and resulted in the decimation of our populations and cultures, resulting in centuries of dispossession, assimilation, and subsequent multigenerational trauma. In the Peruvian Amazon, fifteen uncontacted tribes survive, but face imminent threat from the Peruvian government’s “open door” policy to multinational energy companies, sanctioning energy exploration in the territories of uncontacted tribes. Some 70% of the Peruvian Amazon has already been leased by the government to oil and gas companies, over half of which is tribal homelands to some twenty-seven indigenous communities. In the 1980s, a Shell exploration led to contact with the Nahua. In a relatively short-period of time, 50% of the Nahua died from disease. Now, up to 80% have perished, and of those surviving, 80% are estimated to be suffering from mercury poisoning, the death-toll ever increasing due to suspected mercury pollution from the Camisea gas project, initiated by the Shell exploration and now operated by Pluspetrol, Hunt Oil, and Repsol. Camisea continues to expand, jeopardizing the survival of other tribes and tribal sacred lands in Manu National Park, a UNESCO World Heritage site. According to studies released by The World Bank, an estimated 200 tons of mercury are released into the environment annually because of gold mining operations in Latin America. In the Brazilian Amazon, test results indicate that 92% the Yanomami in Aracaçá have dangerous levels of mercury in their bodies. Aracaçá is the closest community to the preponderance of mining operations in the region, where some 5,000 illegal miners are estimated to be working.
The struggle of tribal nations in the Peruvian Amazon has been a quarter-century “Standing Rock.” In Peru, the government has implemented laws to criminalize indigenous peoples’ protests against extractive industry. On October 11, 2016, 84 members of the US Congress responded to protests against the Dakota Access Pipeline at Standing Rock and various K-XL opposition events by writing to Trump Attorney General, Jefferson Sessions, to urge him to initiate a Department of Justice (DOJ) review to conclude if, by their gathering and resistance, indigenous people and environmental activists protesting pipelines “fall within the DOJ’s understanding of domestic terrorism.” In Peru and Colombia, some tribal villages have secured land title, but their rights are frequently violated in government- supported energy exploration and development. In Brazil, tribes have no communal land ownership rights. In 1992, a Presidential Decree recognized Yanomami land rights, but in the ensuing decades their lands have continued to be threatened by mining companies and ranching interests that wield significant political influence. Lobbied by that alliance, Brazil’s Chamber of Deputies is considering a bill that would legalize without recourse or remedy for tribes, increased extractive industry development, the construction of hydroelectric dams, and ranching to be undertaken on recognized Indian reserves “in the public interest.” The eminent domain-style bill has passed the Brazilian Senate, providing further evidence that the indigenous people of the Amazon are imperiled by overwhelming oil and gas exploration, illegal logging, and unrestrained ranching and farming.
GIC will seek to work with the multitude of tribal advocacy groups established to support the 400 or so tribes in the Amazon. Initiatives we can bring to fruition for our people in North America have the potential to provide precedent for these tribes in their struggle for sovereign recognition and the rights of indigenous peoples as set forth in UNDRIP, which Peru and Brazil adopted.
Those cited here are but a few representative examples of the myriad situations replicated on indigenous lands and threatening indigenous communities around the world.