Today (May 17), tribal leaders are gathering in Calgary, Alberta to sign a 16-page declaration against the Keystone XL Pipeline.
From the United States are the Great Sioux Nation and Ponca tribes and from Canada, the Blackfoot Confederacy. They will sign the “Declaration Opposing Oil Sand Expansion and the Construction of the Keystone XL Pipeline” as a message to President Donald Trump, reports Native News Online.
"There is a historic union between first Americans in Canada and Native Americans in the United States," said Casey Camp-Horinek, a councilwoman with the Ponca tribe in Oklahoma, to The Associated Press. "Long before a border ever existed on a map, a fictitious line on a map, we were a united peoples in our approach to care of Mother Earth."
Pipeline opponents seemingly won the battle against the 1,179 mile-long pipeline in 2015 when former President Barack Obama rejected developer TransCanada’s permit application. However, Trump entered the White House January 20 and signed a presidential memorandum to repeal that just four days later.
With this declaration, indigenous people across North America want Trump to know why this pipeline is destructive to their culture, safety and history. The preamble reads, per Native News:
“We, The First People, were and remain the stewards of the land and with this Declaration renew our vow to carry that sacred obligation in defense of our Mother, the Earth, and all born of her body and nurtured at her breast who are no longer heard amidst the dissonance of industrialization and corporate domination.”
One of the declaration’s strongest demands revolves around treaty rights. Tribal leaders want consultation processes to change and require consent. Currently, companies such as TransCanada may include a Native American Relations Policy or Aboriginal Relations Policy (both of which TransCanada has), but a tribe’s rejection doesn’t factor in significantly. Tribal members might send this declaration to the United Nations, the AP reports.
Currently, the $8 billion pipeline is not guaranteed to happen. Groups have sued the federal government for the permit it issued TransCanada. In Nebraska, the project has still not been approved. Opponents have been preparing to build camps—similar to what was seen in North Dakota against the Dakota Access Pipeline—along the proposed pipeline route.