[News] Trump Pushes a New Pipeline Permit as Floods Devastate Native American Tribes
news at freedomarchives.org
Fri Apr 5 11:20:06 EDT 2019
Trump Pushes a New Pipeline Permit as Floods Devastate Native American
Alleen Brown - April 5, 2019
_Three weeks after_ the flooding began on the Pine Ridge Reservation in
South Dakota, families still remain isolated, trapped in their homes by
water and mud, even as the water has begun to subside. On South Dakota’s
nine Indian reservations, spring is gumbo season — when sticky, gummy,
clay mud is exposed after the snow melts. In the aftermath of the
floods, it’s so thick and deep that heavy equipment has been lost to it.
In many areas, the miles of gravel and dirt roads that make up much of
the reservations’ transportation infrastructure have washed away or been
made impassable by gumbo. Septic tanks have overflowed, adding fecal
matter to the muck.
The Oglala Sioux tribe estimates that 1,500 people are displaced from
their homes and 500 lack access to drinking water. Teams of young men on
horseback and the occasional helicopter have been helping deliver food
packages, water, and medical support to isolated homes.
Farther north, 20-45 people have been staying in the Standing Rock Sioux
tribe’s community center every night, according to Waniya Locke, who
lives on the reservation and has been assisting with rescue efforts. The
center lacks heat, so they’ve been relying on space heaters and thick
blankets to keep warm. She estimates that around 300 people have been
displaced from their homes. Last week, the nearby Cheyenne River Sioux
tribe ordered the evacuation of a section of its reservation, airlifting
out three families.
Asked what the long-term recovery might look like, Locke shrugged.
“We’re not even to the point of discussing recovery, because we’re still
In the Midst of a Climate Crisis, a New Pipeline Permit
On Tuesday, the Oglala Sioux Tribe joined the state legislature in
calling on officials in Washington to declare a federal disaster in
South Dakota, which would make available aid from the Federal Emergency
Management Agency. “Rather than declaring emergencies that don’t exist,
President Trump needs to pay attention to the ones that do,” said Tribal
Chair Julian Bear Runner, in a statement referencing Trump’s declaration
of a national emergency on the U.S. border with Mexico. “I call upon him
to send us help before lives are further disrupted.”
He also requested that Trump drop his efforts to expedite construction
of the Keystone XL pipeline. On Friday, in the midst of the crisis,
Trump issued a new presidential permit that would allow the pipeline to
cross the Canadian border into the U.S. “Trump’s decision to ram KXL
through while our families suffer feels like being kicked while we’re
down,” Bear Runner said.
The same Native communities that have been hit hardest by Midwestern
flooding are also some of the most vocally opposed to the Keystone XL
tar sands pipeline, which would pump up to 830,000 barrels of tar sands
oil per day from Alberta, Canada, through Montana, South Dakota, and
Nebraska. Many Oceti Sakowin people, known by the U.S. government as the
Sioux, are concerned that the pipeline will leak, contaminating the
rivers and waterways that provide the reservations’ drinking water and
that lie within territory the U.S. government illegally swindled away
more than a century ago. They’re also worried about the longer term
climate impacts of continuing the production of dirty tar sands oil.
To opponents on Pine Ridge, the floods prove their point about the
pipeline: Without a halt to fossil fuel extraction, the nation’s most
vulnerable communities will pay the heaviest price for climate-fueled
flooding, droughts, extreme weather, and ecosystem collapse. Scientists
say the weather conditions
that led to the flooding have become more likely because of climate
change. “The use of fossil fuels has led to this extraordinary weather
event and many other disasters,” Bear Runner said. “Keystone XL will
only continue to exacerbate the cycle of destruction in the future.”
It’s not the only contentious decision that was finalized in the midst
of the disaster. Last week, Gov. Kristi Noem signed into law two bills
designed to help the state government pay for the costs of policing what
are expected to be massive, Indigenous-led demonstrations if
construction begins. One of the two laws, SB 189, creates new civil
penalties for “riot boosting,” which would apply not only to riot
participants but to anyone who “directs, advises, encourages, or
solicits other persons participating in the riot to acts of force or
The American Civil Liberties Union is suing South Dakota for infringing
on the free speech rights of organizations including the Indigenous
Environmental Network, Sierra Club, Dakota Rural Action, and the NDN
Collective, all of which assert that the law will limit their ability to
provide training and support to pipeline opponents.
At the single hearing for the two bills, a lobbyist for the governor’s
office called the riot-boosting law a key aspect of what he hoped would
be “the next generation model of funding pipeline construction.” The
second law, SB 190, has received less attention. That law creates a fund
from which law enforcement can draw money as they police the protests.
As Remi Bald Eagle, head of intergovernmental affairs for the Cheyenne
River Sioux tribe, put it, “The PEACE fund does nothing more than create
mercenaries out of state law enforcement institutions.”
Much of the money in the PEACE fund would come directly from the
pipeline parent company, TransCanada. The state government would bill
TransCanada monthly for policing costs, up to $20 million. Additional
PEACE money would come from a “Riot Boosting Recovery Fund,” made up of
penalties from the new riot law. If the state managed to obtain grants
from the Justice Department or money from Congress, that would also go
into the PEACE fund.
Native Women Challenge Big Oil Via the Vote
According to state Rep. Peri Pourier, who’s from Pine Ridge, one of the
biggest problems with the pair of laws is that while TransCanada and an
array of public officials, including law enforcement and county
representatives, were consulted, the state’s nine tribes were left out
of discussions entirely.
Tribal leaders have noted that the tribes are likely to accrue large
expenses if protests break out, since both protest camps and “man
camps,” temporary housing sites for pipeline workers, are likely to be
located near reservation borders. Indigenous women across the U.S. are
disproportionately victims of violent crimes, including homicide and
sexual assault, and many are concerned that violence against women will
rise as temporary, mostly male workers flood the area. Yet already
under-resourced tribes are apparently not eligible to access the PEACE fund.
Pourier decided to run for office in mostly white, Republican South
Dakota precisely because tribes are routinely left out of decisions that
impact them the most. Pourier was part of a historic wave of Indigenous
women elected into state and federal offices last November — a result of
indigenous cultural and political organizing that has been reinvigorated
nationwide, in part because of pipeline organizing. She and two other
Native women joined three incumbent Native men in the state legislature.
The Native legislators were among the handful who voted against the bills.
“My greatest hope is that Native women and Native men in those spaces
becomes normalized,” Pourier said. But the road will be uphill. “These
political structures were not created for us; the reservation was
created for us.”
After the election, a handful of Republican legislators accused Pourier
and newly elected state Sen. Red Dawn Foster, also from Pine Ridge, of
election fraud. They claimed that the two Oglala Lakota elected
officials violated a state law that says legislators must be residents
of the state for two years before taking office. Pourier, they said,
spent part of the two years in Nebraska, and Foster was in Colorado. An
ultimately confirmed their eligibility.
“I was a resident of South Dakota since 2015 — they took one piece here
and one piece there and created a picture and a narrative about me that
was completely untrue,” said Pourier. “It was ridiculous for them to
argue that somehow an Oglala Lakota was not from her Indigenous homeland.”
Pourier has spent the last few weeks helping coordinate volunteers and
supply deliveries on the reservation, as co-founder of the nonprofit
Pine Ridge Reservation Emergency Relief, formed in the wake of the
disaster. Although Noem sent in the National Guard last week to
distribute drinking water, Pourier said that much of the relief efforts
have come from community members.
Freedom Archives 522 Valencia Street San Francisco, CA 94110 415
-------------- next part --------------
An HTML attachment was scrubbed...
More information about the News