Environment | Opinion

Kayla DeVault: Navajo Nation must take a stand on Dakota Access






Kayla DeVault. Photo by Navajo Nation Department of Transportation

Kayla DeVault, a member of the Shawnee Tribe, calls on the Navajo Nation to show solidarity with the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe in the battle to stop the Dakota Access Pipeline. On Tuesday, Navajo President Russell Begaye issued a letter of support for the cause:
It’s time Navajo Nation uses its powerful voice for indigenous solidarity, not oil prosperity. In fact, it’s well past time.

Although I hold tribal membership in a different community, I was drawn last summer to work for the Navajo Nation government by its impressive example of tribal sovereignty in action. Not many tribal communities can brag that they have their own Environmental Protection Agency, Department of Agriculture, etc.

Not every Indigenous person can point out the window to a traditional plant or a sacred landmark. (My own tribe suffered both relocation and the Dawes Allotment Act.) Because of Navajo leadership’s ability to negotiate at Bosque Redondo, these are things the Navajo people have never lost and that they must never forget. The Navajo Nation has a powerful voice, so long as it chooses to speak.

I have heard Navajo leadership use this voice. It is loud and it can be condemning. Think: Gold King Mine spill. Or: Delegate Crotty’s passionate denouncement against Donald “Drumpf”.

However, when it comes to the environmental threats caused by extractive industries on tribal lands, whether on the Navajo Nation or elsewhere, I hear relative silence.

Read More:
Kayla DeVault: Navajos Too Quiet on Extractive Industries (Indian Country Today 8/24)

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