Saturday, January 28, 2012

Pipeline rejection is a huge Native American victory


First, make no mistake: It was Native Americans who spearheaded and bore the brunt of the campaign against the TransCanada Keystone XL Pipeline.
The news media continue to engage in loathsome racist marginalization by ignoring Native involvement in this struggle, touting the opposition of environmentalists. With all due respect to our environmentalist allies, they were following the Indian lead, but it was Native Americans of Canada and the U.S. in the forefront of this protracted struggle, which is still far from over. Nonetheless, a major battle has been won.
The rejection of the pipeline by President Obama was a tremendous victory for tribal nations of the U.S. and Canada. Obama listened to the voices of this land’s first peoples. In early December, Native leaders presented the president with the “Mother Earth Accord” that outlined the unique U.S. Tribal and Canadian First Nations objections to the pipeline.
In Alberta province, for example, it was pointed out that the extraction of tar sands oil had already been linked to a 30 percent elevated rate of rare cancers and autoimmune diseases in First Nations communities downstream from the project. The Mother Earth Accord was developed this past September at the Rosebud Sioux Tribe Emergency Summit. More than 20 tribal nations and private landowners, private citizens, environmental organizations and Canadian political parties endorsed the accord in opposition to the pipeline.
There were, of course, the naysayers to this decision, led by Republicans with inane, vociferating, hypocritical temerity. Perhaps, the Obama administration is finally realizing that attempting to work with them is akin to entering a Faustian compact.
Republicans contended that the project would have produced tens of thousands of jobs. Balderdash. With the exception of possibly a couple of thousand temporary construction jobs along the pipeline route from Canada to the Texas Gulf Coast, there was little prospective job creation. Further, latest studies estimate that the pipeline would create fewer than 100 permanent jobs.

Pundits continue to downplay the massive coalition led by Native people with such comments as Obama is “pandering to a small environmental constituency.” They deny that Native people are a political force to be reckoned with.
There had recently been massive demonstrations against the pipeline at the White House. In a two-week, August-September protest mostly by American Indians, 1,253 were arrested. On Nov. 6, more than 12,000 demonstrated in a “human chain” protest that encircled the White House! Incredibly, neither massive protest was reported by the TV or newspaper media, a woeful commentary on the stranglehold exerted on news by corporate moguls.
The proposed pipeline would have been deadly for Canadian tribal nations and at least five U.S. Native American reservations and six states. President Obama is to be lauded for his disapproval of this heinous enterprise. Further, this rejection represents a history-making Native American victory over the mammon-obsessed jackals of corporate greed.

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