Year 4, Month 5, Day 30: ________, And Thanks For The Memories

Heavy times in Rapid City, South Dakota:

Tribal representatives walked out of a meeting today with Department of State officials who came to Rapid City to discuss concerns about the Keystone pipeline project and its potential impact on sites sacred to the tribes, according to a press release from the Indigenous Environmental Network.

The press release went on to say that “tribal, traditional and community members from the Lakota, Ponca, and Pawnee declared the meeting a sham. Oglala Sioux Tribe President Bryan Brewer made a statement dismissing the gathering as a sham because no leadership of the United States was present.”

Instead, the press release said, the “Obama administration sent low level clerks to meet with our tribal and treaty leaders. This disrespect to the provisions of the 1868 Ft. Laramie Treaty between the Lakota, Arapahoe, Cheyenne and the United States, as well as violations to international law and the Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples, will not be tolerated.”

In the eyes of our corporate overlords, we are all disposable. May 18:

The treatment accorded to Native American tribal leaders in the negotiations over the Keystone XL is essentially identical to that offered American citizens in general. While the tribes are justifiably suspicious, given that the US Government has a long history of making promises it doesn’t keep, we need to understand that another and all-but-unstoppable force involved the ongoing pipeline controversy which has occupied the halls of Congress and the corridors of federal and state governments. The overwhelmingly powerful corporate interests whose profits will increase further with Keystone’s completion are equally ready to promise impossibilities to all American citizens.

They promise the pipeline won’t leak, and if it does leak, they promise to clean it up. They promise that climate change won’t be impacted by extracting and burning the tar sands — and they also promise that climate change won’t damage the pipeline. They promise that the project will bring economic well-being to the US, and end our dependence on foreign oil. Given their dismal track record on all these issues, and the essentially nonexistent penalties for failing to deliver, the fossil fuel industry could promise even more. Approve the pipeline, and everybody gets a pony!

Warren Senders

Year 3, Month 8, Day 3: Ring-A-Ding-Ding!

More on the indigenous cultures story, this time from the Carroll County Times:

The severe weather extremes of recent years has many more people considering climate change and our impact on the planet, but a Senate committee last week heard from a group that is directly impacted, and what they had to say should be heard by everyone who claims climate change isn’t real.

Members of several West Coast tribes and Alaska communities were in Washington last week for a symposium on the impact of climate change.

The Associated Press reported that during a committee hearing, Hawaii Senator and committee chairman Daniel Akaka said that native communities are disproportionately impacted because they depend on nature for traditional food, sacred sites and for cultural ceremonies.

Villages are being wiped out by coastal erosion. According to the Associated Press, Mike Williams, chief of the Yupit Nation in Akiak, Alaska, to the Senate Indian Affairs Committee how the Iditarod Trail Sled Dog Race had to be moved because of a lack of snowfall, and how it had become necessary for the dogs to run at night to stay cool.

“We’ve always lived off the land and off the waters and continue to do that. But we’re bearing the burden of living with these conditions today,” The Associated Press reported Williams telling the committee.

Talking to a Senate committee is going to do them a hell of a lot of good, I’m sure. Sent July 23:

Indigenous peoples around the world are invariably on the front lines of climate change. Because their lives are integrated with the cyclic flow of seasons and the gradual transformations of ecosystems over time, they are uniquely situated to read warning signals most of us wouldn’t even recognize.

But we should not be deluded into believing that global warming is only going to affect tribal populations. With Midwestern agriculture under significant threat from devastating heat waves, Americans can anticipate climbing grocery bills and the likelihood of shortages in the months to come. Nobody’s going to be able to evade the impact of industrial civilization’s CO2 spree much longer, even with the help of petroleum-funded professional denialists in the print and broadcast media.

Traditional societies may hear the alarms sooner and louder than the rest of us, but there can be no doubt: the bells are tolling for us all.

Warren Senders