Aboriginal Justice: Lakota Prepare to Confront Keystone XL Pipeline Threat

by Duane Ediger and Carol Rose

Preparations for closing ceremony of Moccasins on the Ground training near proposed Keystone XL pathThe “Moccasins on the Ground Tour of Resistance,” is training people to protect land, water and life from threats presented by the proposed Keystone XL pipeline (KXL), intended to carry tar sands bitumen mixed with chemicals from Alberta to Texas.

CPTers Carol Rose and Duane Ediger attended the 14-16 June training on the Cheyenne River Reservation near the South Dakota Badlands, and helped facilitate the closing strategizing session. Leaders including Winona LaDuke engaged Lakota, friends and allies with prayer, stories and workshops on tar sands, treaty and civil law, spiritually grounded resistance, media strategy, nonviolent action and sacred sites. The organized abduction and trafficking of native women was also discussed.

“As the process of public comment, hearings, and other aspects of an international application continue, each door is closing to protecting sacred water and our human right to water,” said training organizer Debra White Plume. “Soon the only door left open will be the door to direct action. An organized, prepared community is our best protection if President Obama chooses to issue the KXL permit. We must act now and be ready to protect our sacred water, our lands, our families, so we take the ‘Moccasins on the Ground Tour of Resistance’ to Lakota communities that invite us.”

In the 1868 Fort Laramie Treaty the U.S. promised to respect native ownership of the western half of what is now called South Dakota. The United States Supreme Court in 1980 found the U.S. had violated the treaty in taking back most of that land by 1910. The Lakota rejected a court-ordered financial settlement.

“I’ve heard so many people say of the genocidal United States actions towards Native Americans, ‘Isn’t it a shame what was done way back then?’” said Rose. “It's time for the descendants of the settlers… to stand up and say, ‘No more genocide in my name! I want to honor our word in the treaty. I want to live into right relations with the Lakota people.’ ”

(Construction of KXL’s southern branch has been repeatedly delayed by nonviolent actions. Even as the northern portion remains on hold, other pipelines are fast-tracked; many pass through a BP refinery in Whiting, IN, near Chicago.)

Duane Ediger is a CPT Reservist; Carol Rose is CPT Director.