Levi Rickert, editor-in-chief in Native Challenges. Discussion »
RAPID CITY, SOUTH DAKOTA Thursday may be remembered as a day in history when American Indian tribes voted with their feet to tell the federal government "No" to the Keystone XL pipeline.
The US Department of State tribal consultation came to an abrupt end when members of the Great Plains Tribal Chairmen's Association walked out of the "consultation" at the Hilton Garden Inn in Rapid City, South Dakota. They walked out of the event because they deemed it invalid.
Several tribal leaders said the event did not meet what should be a considered nation to nation consultation.
Instead of dealing with low level clerks sent by the US State Department, the Great Plains Tribes are seeking a nation to nation consultation with President Barack Obama to dialogue with him on the Keystone XL pipeline.
Oglala Sioux Tribal President Bryan Brewer made a statement dismissing the gathering as a sham because no leadership of the United States was present. Instead Obama's administration sent low level clerks to meet with our tribal and treaty leaders.
Tribal consultation is a term that is sometimes nebulous, particularly when it appears the tribal consultation is one-sided in nature.
“The standard for consultation with Indigenous Nations is described as "government to government," and that standard must not be treated lightly. The duty to engage with tribes in this manner stems from treaties and the Constitution, and it has been expanded upon through court decisions and Executive Orders,”
states Jennifer Baker, a Denver based attorney who has considerable work working with Great Plains tribes.
Tribal, traditional and community members from the Lakota, Dakota, Nakota, Nez Perce, Ponca, and Pawnee demonstrated unprecedented unity and declared that they people would not participate in what was designed to appear to be a negotiation with the Great Plains Indian tribes.
Citing provisions of the 1868 Ft. Laramie Treaty between the Lakota, Arapahoe, Cheyenne and the United States, as well as violations to international law and the Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples, leaders proclaimed meetings such as the one Thursday will no longer be tolerated.
As tribal officials left the room the grassroots people of Owe Aku's Moccasins on the Ground began to chant "Sacred Sites, Worth the Fight, Territory by Treaty Right" until the US Department of State officials were forced to shut down the meeting.
At an afternoon news conference, one by one tribal officials told the media tribes do not want the Keystone XL pipeline.
“We say no, we say no again! We stand together on this Keystone XL pipeline,”
declared Casey Camp-Horinek, Southern Ponca Tribe of Oklahoma.
“This is for our children, our land, our water Indians and non-Indians have to work together to stop the pipeline,”
stated Bryan Brewer, president of the Oglala Sioux Tribe.
“We want a meeting with President Obama to discuss our future. What happens now will affect future generations,”
said President Brewer.
“When we say no, we mean no! Respect it. I am asking I am asking all Indigenous tribes to be with us. It is going to take all of us to stop them,”
stated Robin LaBeau, tribal councilor, Cheyenne River Sioux Tribe.
She exhorted those present to "go back to your people and let know everyone needs to come together to stop this pipeline."
Tribes in attendance Thursday were: Southern Ponca of Oklahoma, Pawnee Nation, Nez Perce Nation, Sisseton-Wahpeton Oyate, Ihanktonwan Dakota Yankton Sioux, Rosebud Sioux Tribe, Oglala Sioux Tribe, Standing Rock Tribe, Cheyenne River Sioux Tribe and Crow Creek Sioux Tribe.
posted May 17, 2013 7:50 am edt