Target: United States President Barack Obama
Goal: Prevent Keystone XL Pipeline from being built on Lakota Sioux Lands
The controversial Keystone XL Pipeline to be built by TransCanada, in a State Department report, was estimated to increase carbon pollution on a level equivalent to putting 5.7 million automobiles on the roads. However, if the president chooses to side with TransCanada and approves the pipeline’s construction, his action would send a clear message that the government is not concerned with the sovereignty of American Indians.
As it stands, the pipeline would be built on Lakota Sioux land and other smaller tribes’ land in Montana, South Dakota, and Nebraska. Yet, as an act of solidarity, tribes from Idaho, Oklahoma, and Oregon have joined the Lakota Nation to stop the construction of the 870 mile pipeline in the tribe’s territory.
Historically, American Indians have been systematically denied any right to national sovereignty and have had their rights trampled on by the US government. The now infamous case of the open disregard of the 1868 Fort Laramie treaty has led to extremely low life expectancy and living conditions.
Nevertheless, a late 2013 court victory by the Nez Perce tribe in Idaho provides some hope that indigenous rights will be respected. The tribe began defending its rights by creating a human blockade for large trucks carrying tar sands mining equipment through its land in August. In October, a federal judge ruled that the “megaloads” should be temporarily excluded from carrying the equipment through Nez Perce territory.
It is a human right to have decision making power about your local environment and land. Thus, if President Obama decides to approve the Keystone XL pipeline, he must work with the Lakota Sioux to prevent the United States from further violating their human rights and sovereignty. Encourage President Obama to respect indigenous and human rights and reconsider the pipeline.
Dear President Obama,
As you consider the environmental impact of the TransCanada Keystone XL Pipeline, do not disregard the impact your decision has on the rights of America’s indigenous people. The planned route of the pipeline would cross through the lands of the Lakota Nation in Montana, South Dakota, and Nebraska. Indigenous peoples in Idaho, Oregon and Oklahoma have joined the Lakota Sioux to oppose the construction of the Keystone pipeline through their lands.
The tribes are concerned about the environmental impact of the pipeline on their land and water. Disregarding their voice in their matter constitutes both a violation of their human right to participate in decisions that affect them and a violation of the rights granted to the Lakota Sioux under their treaties with the US government. I urge you to reconsider the pipeline or move it such that indigenous rights are respected.
[Your Name Here]
Photo Credit: shannonpatrick17 via Wikimedia Commons