Opinion

Opinion: Nez Perce Tribe defends its homeland from big energy






Leaders of the Nez Perce Tribe of Idaho. Photo from NPT

Writer discusses how the Nez Perce Tribe stopped big energy from shipping megaloads through its reservation in Idaho:
The Nez Perce are defending their homeland, which they have inhabited and husbanded for centuries. During decades of dispossession and disrespect, they protected their homeland, working steadily to reclaim their traditional ways and liberties while being good neighbors to the children of their dispossessors. No Idahoans are more rooted to their home and faith.

Contrast that with Exxon and the other agents of Big Oil that Otter has aligned with—radical, rootless, sharp-elbowed bullies, for whom homelands are "corridors," sacred places coordinates on computer screens, and the people of those lands abstract units defined solely by financial transactions. Nez Perce words and actions have been consistent. However, Exxon has repeatedly misled the public and changed its stories to get access to Highway 12. Otter has been silent about or party to these deceptions.

For Big Oil, Alberta's northern forests are overburden to bulldoze. The Nez Perce, knowing those forests are home to people and the ecosystems that sustain them, have invited these people to visit Idaho and describe what the mining is doing to them. Otter has never consulted these people. The Nez Perce have considered the accelerating harm that global warming will cause their children's children, and see its connection to mining the Canadian tar sands. Otter has apparently not thought about it.

When Nez Perce leaders decided to blockade one megaload shipment through tribal lands—a shipment Idaho permitted over the tribe's objection—they accepted the consequences of their civil disobedience and were arrested peacefully by the tribe's own police. When a federal judge halted further megaload traffic, in part due to the state's failure to consult the tribe, Otter responded—not by legally appealing the verdict—but by attacking the judge for failing to share what he calls the conservative values of Idaho.

Get the Story:
Pat Ford: Megaload corridor debate reveals the true conservatives (The Missoula News 8/21)

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Al Jazeera: Nez Perce Tribe battles big energy shipments (10/14)
Nez Perce Tribe stands up for treaty rights in megaload case (09/26)
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Nez Perce Tribe wins decision against 2nd megaload shipment (9/13)