Grassroots Natives Meet EPA, Highlight Keystone XL Concerns
By Rob Capriccioso
At least 100 grassroots tribal citizens participated in a thousands-strong February 17 rally in Washington, D.C., as they had at a similar White House peaceful protest in fall 2011. Their message was consistent: The federal government has done a poor job of consulting with tribes about the possible health and cultural impacts of the pipeline if it were allowed to carry oil through their homelands. Many of them fervently believe that such development could adversely affect health, have cultural ramifications and destroy sacred sites.
New messages were shared as well, said Kandi Mosset, an organizer with the Indigenous Environmental Network (IEN) and a citizen of the Mandan, Hidatsa and Arikara Nations on the Fort Berthold Reservation in North Dakota.
“This protest was meant to show that our concerns have not faded—they have grown stronger,” she said, noting that with a new Secretary of State, John Kerry, there is also new opportunity to educate him and his staff on tribal positions. “This is a moment for John Kerry and the Obama administration to truly put their words into action in the protection of our Earth now and for future generations.”
Richard Ray Whitman, a citizen of the Yuchi/Muskogee Creek Tribes, said many Indians want to show their support for Canadian First Nations people who have already been affected by pipeline development on their homelands.
“Our concerns also go far beyond what might happen here,” he said in an IEN action alert. “Because of the extraction of the tar sands, we are currently witnessing the devastation of lands considered sacred by indigenous people in Canada. Opposing the Keystone XL Pipeline means standing in solidarity with all our Native brothers and sisters in the Northern U.S. and Canada.”
Below: "Tribal members onstage at anti–Keystone XL and climate change rally on February 17, 2013, left to right: Patricia Shepard (Ojibwe, Wisconsin), Casey Camp (Ponca, Oklahoma), Crystal Lameman (Beaver Lake Cree, Alberta, Canada), Melina Laboucan-Massimo (Lubicon Cree, Northern Alberta, Canada) and Kandi Mossett (Mandan, Hidatsa, Arikara, North Dakota)." (Jenna Pope)