By Candice Bernd for Truthout – Marfa, Texas—A new Indigenous-led direct action campaign is gaining momentum with two more lockdown actions targeting Energy Transfer Partners’ (ETP) twin pipeline projects in far West Texas. An Indigenous Water Protector and an Alpine resident were arrested Saturday, January 14, after locking themselves to pipe-laying equipment at an ETP easement and work site in Presidio County, Texas. The lockdown disrupted construction on the company’s 148-mile Trans-Pecos pipeline that, if completed, would carry 1.4 billion cubic feet of fracked gas from West Texas to Mexico every day.
By Kiana Herold for IC – Indigenous battles to defend nature have taken to the streets, leading to powerful mobilizations like the gathering at Standing Rock. They have also taken to the courts, through the development of innovative legal ways of protecting nature. In Ecuador, Bolivia and New Zealand, indigenous activism has helped spur the creation of a novel legal phenomenon—the idea that nature itself can have rights. The 2008 constitution of Ecuador was the first national constitution to establish rights of nature. In this legal paradigm shift, nature changed from being held as property to a rights-bearing entity. Rights are typically given to actors who can claim them—humans—but they have expanded especially in recent years to non-human entities such as corporations, animals and the natural environment.
By Phil McKenna for Inside Climate News – The Bad River Band of the Lake Superior Tribe of Chippewa Indians in northern Wisconsin voted not to renew an easement for a major oil and gas pipeline that passes through its reservation. In the wake of the successful protest against the Dakota Access pipeline in North Dakota, this decision is the latest example of Native American tribes using sovereignty rights to oppose fossil fuel projects. The Bad River tribal council voted unanimously in early January to revoke rights-of-way that pass through the roughly 200-square-mile reservation and the decision could prove difficult to overturn. Pipeline companies often take ownership of private land through the use of eminent domain.
By Simon Moya-Smith for Indian Country Media Network. The number of Native Americans killed by police nearly doubled in 2016 compared to the previous year, according to reports. Last year, an estimated 21 Native Americans were killed by law enforcement. In 2015, police killed 13 Native Americans, The Counted, a tabulation of all police killings in the U.S., revealed. A 2014 study by The Center of Juvenile and Criminal Justice reported that, per capita, Native Americans are more likely to be killed by police than any other demographic in the U.S.
By Four Arrows for Truth Out – Late afternoon on December 27, “Lunatic Outpost” released a video showing a group of about “20 to 50″ Water Protectors who, while returning from a prayer walk along the Cannonball River, were chased down by armed security from DAPL and Morton County Sheriff’s Department. A helicopter and tracked vehicles were involved in the pursuit. Behind the images of the large number of police and security dotting the snow-covered terrain played, background radios from the Standing Rock medics could be heard. “We need a medic team. We need a team ready to roll now.” Then the narrator says “Four women were taken away in a red paddy wagon of some sort.”
By Yesenia Barragan for African American Intellectual History Society. It was a humid Christmas day in 1820 when twenty-five-year-old Santiago Martínez presented himself before the army commander stationed in the frontier Colombian town of Quibdó for service in the republican army. Just the year prior, in 1819, the new republic of Gran Colombia, a nation encompassing the present-day countries of Colombia, Venezuela, Panama, and Ecuador, was created in the final throes of the Wars of Independence against Spain. Four feet and five inches tall, with a notable, long scar on his right cheek up to his eyebrow, Martínez sought to serve in the local army, perhaps heeding Independence leader Simón Bolívar’s call for voluntary conscription in the young Andean nation. According to army records, Martínez declared that he was a “liberto,” a free black or formerly enslaved person, and that he was a “worker” [labrador] by profession.
By Yasmin Khan for Counter Punch – With eyes red with fatigue, Pablo Fajardo stood in front of a room of activists in Toronto, Canada explaining the plight of the more than 30,000 indigenous peoples and farmers whose lands in the Ecuadorian Amazon are covered in toxic sludge. Fajardo was presenting evidence that the pollution stems from decades of oil extractions by Chevron-Texaco, one of the world’s largest oil companies. He and his clients are fighting a drawn-out legal battle that is part of a growing list of high-profile cases brought by indigenous communities against extractive industries…
By Michael J. Dax for Yes! Magazine – As Badger Creek’s oxbows meandered below, Tatsey, who sits on the Blackfeet Tribal Business Council, soaked in the gentle undulations of the green foothills and silhouetted peaks that stretched across the horizon as he described the responsibility he feels for the land. “Blackfeet think of time in seven-generation increments, and my grandfather was the first generation,” he began. With his daughter beside him and the afternoon sun lowering behind the mountains, he gestured toward his grandkids running wildly around the hill, adding proudly, “Their grandkids will be the seventh generation. I have to start teaching them to be responsible for this place.”
By Staff of Sabal Trail Resistance – As you read this, drilling under is complete under the Santa Fe River, after two months of battle. It has now begun under the Suwannee River. If unopposed, could be done as quick as 4 to 6 weeks. But it will not be unopposed, and the sooner you come to the front lines the longer it will take to be completed. These two waterways are at the heart of a region which contains the highest concentration of fresh water springs in the world. There are currently two full-time encampments in North Florida and the possibility of more to emerge along the route with your support and participation. You are invited to help build opposition on the ground to this fracked gas pipeline.
By Staff of Camp of the Sacred Stones – As we reflect on the decision by the US Army (NOT the US Army Corps) to suspend the Dakota Access Pipeline (DAPL) river crossing easement and conduct a limited Environmental Impact Statement (EIS), the resistance camps at Standing Rock are making plans for the next phase of this movement. Standing Rock Sioux Tribal Chairman Dave Archambault II has asked people to return home once the weather clears, and many will do so. Others will stay to hold the space, advance our reclamation of unceded territory affirmed in the 1851 Treaty of Ft. Laramie, and continue to build community around the protection of our sacred waters.
By Tim Scott for Truthout – The peaceful Native Water Protectors who have been resisting the construction of the Dakota Access Pipeline (DAPL) on sacred land belonging to the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe have succeeded in winning federal accommodations to temporarily halt DAPL construction, but the energy company behind DAPL has pledged to proceed (with state support). Knowing the enduring historic and structural nature of this modern struggle — a struggle in which the Water Protectors have courageously confronted violent local, state and private militarized forces, inspiring support from thousands of US military veterans — is vital to understanding its significance.
By Christopher Curtis for Montreal Gazette – A Quebec Mohawk chief is promising a coordinated campaign of civil disobedience if recently approved pipeline construction encroaches on aboriginal territory in British Columbia. The actions could range from demonstrations and rail blockades to people occupying government offices across Canada, according to Kanesatake Grand Chief Serge Simon. “I’ve always said my favourite form of action is civil disobedience,” said Simon, in an interview with the Montreal Gazette. “If the government insists on ignoring its commitment to First Nations, we’re looking at unrest in many areas of the country, not just in British Columbia.”
By Jeff Abbott for Waging Nonviolence – Thousands of indigenous Q’eqchi, Achí and Pomcomchí Mayas took part in a series of protests on October 17 against hydroelectric projects along the Cahabón River in the Guatemalan department of Alta Verapaz. The simultaneous protests, which took place in Guatemala City and the municipality of San Pedro Carcha, aimed to force the government’s hand over a delayed consultation on the project in Santa María Cahabón. “[The company] entered [our community] without advising anyone,” said Bernado Caal Xol, one of the organizers of the movement against the hydro project.
By Whitney Webb for Nation of Change. The federal government finally made its intentions public when the Corps sent a letter to Sioux tribal leaders, telling them that their camps of peaceful protestors and water protectors would be evicted to protect “the general public.” To add insult to injury, the Corps’ commander told the protestors they could move to an officially sanctioned “free speech zone” away from the construction site. These hollow words are clearly more “spin” designed to distance the government from its obvious, though indirect support of the $3.8 billion pipeline project. The Cheyenne River tribe, who are co-litigants in a lawsuit against the pipeline, sharply rebuked the plan, citing that the area on which the targeted camps lie are Sioux territory per the 1851 Fort Laramie treaty signed by the Sioux and the US federal government. The leader of the Standing Rock Sioux, David Archambault II also seconded this statement, saying that the news of the eviction notice was “saddening” but not surprising considering the US government’s historical treatment of indigenous people.