In the wake of the State Department’s Final Supplemental Environmental Impact Statement for the Keystone XL pipeline which sparked nearly 300 protest vigils across the country, a group of Native American communities have added their voices to the calls to reject Keystone XL.
In a joint statement — No Keystone XL pipeline will cross Lakota lands — Honor the Earth, the Oglala Sioux Nation, Owe Aku, and Protect the Sacred announced their intention to peacefully resist the construction of the pipeline slated to cut through Montana, South Dakota, and Nebraska.
“We stand with the Lakota Nation, we stand on the side of protecting sacred water, we stand for Indigenous land-based lifeways, which will NOT be corrupted by a hazardous, toxic pipeline. WE ALL NEED TO STAND WITH THEM.”
While the pipeline does not cross any Lakota reservation lands, it comes within meters and does cut through historic treaty territory, sacred sites and key waterways.
The Lakota Nation has been gearing up for the Keystone fight for years. The nation has led the formation of a project called “Shielding the People” to stop the pipeline. Their Moccasins on the Ground program has also been leading nonviolent direct action training sessions for communities in the path of the pipeline for two years.
In March 2012, native groups at the Pine Ridge Reservation in South Dakota held a blockade to stop trucks from transporting parts of the Keystone XL pipeline through the reservation and in August 2013, members of the Nez Perce tribe blockaded Idaho’s Highway 12 to the Alberta tar sands fields bringing trucks carrying mining equipment to a standstill. The tribe later won a court battle to stop the shipments from crossing its lands.
The pipeline has been dubbed the ‘black snake’ by many tribal groups. There are plans to set up spiritual camps along the pipeline’s route.
Native groups in Canada have also been mobilizing to resist pipeline construction.I n response to Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper’s attempt to ramp up fossil fuel extraction on Native lands, First Nation people have joined together in the Idle No More movement and have held flash mob round dances, blockaded roads, and called on government to protect land and water.