Target: Bryan Brewer, President of the Oglala Sioux Tribe Executive Committee
Goal: Support the Oglala Sioux in their fight against the Keystone XL oil pipeline
Each year in February, the Oglala Sioux Tribe celebrates Liberation Day, to honor fallen warriors and their history of resistance against the United States government. Now they are actively fighting the construction of the Keystone XL oil pipeline, and the Oglala Lakota Tribal Council recently passed a resolution outlining their opposition. They have vowed to stand up and fight if President Obama approves the pipeline. At this year’s celebration, Lakota warriors repeated the phrase “Dead or in prison before we allow the Keystone XL pipeline to pass.”
The 1,700-mile Keystone XL pipeline would carry 830,000 barrels of crude oil each day from western Canada through the Oglala Lakota’s Pine Ridge Reservation in South Dakota en route to Texas. It would cross hundreds of First Nations spiritual sites and burial grounds, and at two points it would intersect with a pipeline that serves as a main water source for the Sioux Nation. TransCanada, the company in charge of the pipeline, predicted that the first Keystone pipeline, which runs from Alberta to Illinois, would spill once every seven years. In fact, that pipeline spilled twelve times during its first year in operation.
The Lakota have vowed to use direct action to stop the construction of the Keystone XL pipeline. They recently gathered with other First Nations for a three-day direct action training called Moccasins on the Ground, designed to prepare people to mobilize if the pipeline is approved. A series of trainings began at the Pine Ridge Reservation and concentrated on direct action, and teach-ins on tar sands and the Keystone XL. Hundreds of First Nations members, environmental activists, Nebraska ranchers and other grassroots organizers attended.
The Lakota believe that they are protectors of the earth, that they are the earth. They also believe they have the earth itself on their side, which is more powerful than big oil and lobbyists. The Keystone XL pipeline is part of a long history of threats to the Sioux Nation, whose land and sovereignty have been attacked for hundreds of years by the United States. Let them know that you commend their resistance to big oil and you respect their continued fight to assert their rights as a sovereign nation.
Dear President Brewer,
I recently learned about the Oglala Lakota Tribal Council’s efforts to oppose the Keystone XL pipeline. I commend you for passing a resolution against the construction project, and for helping to organize teach-ins and direct action trainings in preparation for President Obama’s expected approval of the pipeline. I applaud your efforts to stand strong against yet another attack on the Sioux and other First Nations people. I hope to promote your courage and determination as an example to all of those who care deeply for the environment.
It is unacceptable that the Keystone XL route would intersect with the drinking water pipelines that serve the Pine Ridge and Rosebud reservations. As we have seen with TransCanada’s first Keystone pipeline, it is not a matter of if, but when, an oil spill will create widespread problems. The potential destruction of the environment, and the people and animals who live within it, is not worth any amount of financial gain.
As protectors of the earth, the Lakota have something much more powerful than big oil and their lobbyists. Thank you for fighting to preserve our delicate planet and the diverse peoples inhabiting it.
[Your Name Here]
Photo credit: National Park Service via Wikipedia