The Rosebud Spirit Camp remains steadfast, Shielding the People - Oyate Wahancanka Woecun. Photo courtesy Oyate Wahancanka Woecun

Native Sun News Today: Trump once again pushes Keystone XL Pipeline on Indian Country

Holding on tight as Trump boosts KXL Pipeline
Native Sun News Today Health & Environment Editor

MISSION - As the Rosebud Sioux Tribe celebrated the fifth anniversary March 29 of founding its spirit camp to protect nature from the proposed Keystone XL Pipeline, U.S. President Donald Trump advanced the Canadian tar-sands crude-oil slurry project by revoking its stalled State Department permit and issuing a fast-track executive proclamation.

“Today we celebrate the day now recognized as a Rosebud Sioux Tribe Official Holiday and we continue the original prayer as we remain steadfast, Shielding the People - Oyate Wahancanka Woecun,” the Rosebud Spirit Camp announced, inviting the public here to a feast and dance “to give thanks for the continued success of the original prayer.”

Just hours later, Trump signed a memorandum declaring: “By virtue of the authority vested in me as President of the United States of America, I hereby grant permission … to TransCanada Keystone Pipeline, L.P. to construct, connect, operate, and maintain pipeline facilities at the international border of the United States and Canada at Phillips County, Montana, for the import of oil from Canada to the United States.”

If unopposed, the order would allow construction to go forward despite a federal court suspension of the State Department Presidential Permit, requiring further study before approval.

The Indigenous Environmental Network responded by calling the order “an attempt by the President to bypass federal environmental laws.

“In defense of the sacred and the protection of indigenous peoples, we will continue to fight this pipeline, even if that means further legal action against the office of the President of the United States,” the Bemidji-based non-profit alliance said in a written statement.

Trump’s document professes to be an instrument that “supersedes” the State Department’s Presidential Permit issued March 23, 2017. However, the earlier permit applied to the full length of the segment of the pipeline that remains to be built through unceded 1868 Ft. Laramie Treaty territory in Montana, South Dakota, and Nebraska.

If completed, the Keystone XL Pipeline would carry diluted bitumen, or dilbit, from the tar-sands mines of the Athabascan homelands in Alberta to the Texas Gulf Coast refineries and export terminals.

The memorandum only covers construction at “border facilities,” consisting of a 36-inch diameter pipeline extending from Canada “to and including the first mainline shut-off valve in the United States,” located approximately 1.2 miles from the international boundary.

March 29, 2014 the Rosebud Sioux Tribe along with Oyate Wahacanka Woecun, Shielding the People created the Rosebud Spirit Camp. Under the leadership of President William Kindle, the RST Council designated the day, March 29 as a legal RST holiday. Today we celebrate and honor our allies, friends, supports and those who kept the faith and held the prayers in opposition to the Keystone KXL pipeline. Thank you! Your commitment will forever be remembered by our tribe! The fight for Unci Maka continues, and we will for remain with you and in solidarity, Shielding the People one heart one mind one thought one prayer #NOkxl ##NOdapl #WeAreProtectors

Posted by Oyate Wahacanka Woecun on Wednesday, March 29, 2017
Oyate Wahacanka Woecun: #NoKXL #NoDAPL #WeAreProtectors

The announcement came as tribal governments and ranchers along the route were struggling to survive monumental spring storm runoff that is creating mud plains and stranding residents for weeks.

“In the face of historic flooding in Nebraska and South Dakota, the Trump Administration issues another proclamation attempting to shove a risky tar-sands pipeline down the throats of farmers and ranchers currently facing devastation,” said Jane Kleeb, Bold Nebraska founder.

The past Administration had denied the Presidential Permit to build into the United States and Trump overturned that with the flourish of a pen during his first week in office, as promised on the campaign trail.

“Instead of helping the heartland, Trump is driving a stake through the hearts of family farmers and ranchers and tribal nations who are trying to protect the land and water from a foreign oil pipeline,” she said in a written statement.

The White House action followed the announcement one day earlier of a lawsuit against the state of South Dakota for Gov. Kristi Noem’s recently approved Riot Busting Act, so-called after she coined the phrase “riot busting” in drafting the measure she said was aimed at avoiding costs to the government for conflicts the Keystone XL project is anticipated to engender.

The act says that “anyone that contributes to a protest, whether through monetary donations, donations of supplies, or even through organizing a page on social media, can be held liable, and have civil and criminal penalties for supporting a protest that the state deems violent,” plaintiffs claimed.

“Individuals or organizations that support a protest don’t even need to be on the ground or physically present at the protest to be held liable,” plaintiffs added. Also under the law, TransCanada Corp. could use money obtained from protesters and organizations to promote pipeline construction,” they alleged.

“Gov. Kristi Noem's legislation is yet another way to promote Big Oil interests and prevent dissent by making protesters subject to legal action,” said Kim Pate, vice-president of NDN Collective. Cherokee and Choctaw, Pate is an attorney with 25 years of experience in civil rights litigation.

“Protests and other forms of dissent are protected speech under the First Amendment of the Constitution. If we don't fight this now, what's next? Silencing all speech to placate and enable corporate interests at all costs?” she asked. “Not on our watch.”

Joining her organization in the lawsuit prepared by the ACLU are the Indigenous Environmental Network, the Sierra Club, and Dakota Rural Action, as well as Oglala Lakota’s Dallas Goldtooth of the Indigenous Environmental Network, and Nick Tilsen, president and CEO of the NDN Collective.


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