Wednesday, December 2, 2020

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Tribal nations reclaim independence and sovereignty

On July 4, tribal nations from the U.S. and Canada met in Rapid City to declare a “reclamation of Indian independence and sovereignty”. Cheyenne River Sioux Tribal Chairman, Harold Frazier, was among several Great Sioux Nation Chairmen to sign the Treaty Alliance Against Tar Sands Expansion.

Also in attendance were the Ponca Nations of Nebraska and Oklahoma, the Omaha, and a large delegation of Canadian Grand Chiefs, who represented various First Nations from Canada. The treaty signing was a rekindling of historic tribal alliance between the Blackfoot tribe of Canada and the Great Sioux Nation.

The Treaty Alliance Against Tar Sands Expansion is an international alliance among Native nations, whose ancestral and tribal lands would be directly impacted by the tar sands oil industry. In 2015, President Obama rejected the building of the Keystone Pipeline, which would have crossed the Cheyenne River, within a mile of the Cheyenne River Sioux reservation border. Days after his inauguration, President Trump approved and greenlighted the construction of Keystone Pipeline, much to the objection of the Great Sioux Nation.

The historical assembly of tribes was a direct response to President Trump’s actions. Signing of the treaty is direct objection of the oil industry, namely, that of Alberta’s tar sands industry. The treaty includes opposition to expansion and construction of TransCanada’s Keystone XL pipeline though the great plains region, Enbridge’s Line 3 pipeline through Minnesota, Kinder Morgan’s Trans Mountain Expansion through British Columbia and TransCanada’s Energy East.

In his address to those in attendance, CRST Chairman Frazier stated, “The government is scared of treaties. DAPL purposely did not mention our treaties in court hearings. They ignored the treaties of the past. To us Lakota, these treaties are sacred. As Lakota people, we always say, this is our treaty, but in reality, it is theirs too. They signed it too. My message to Trump is to honor our treaties. If you don’t want to honor our treaties, then go home.”

To date, there are over 130 tribal nations who have signed the treaty, most of whom whose tribal lands and water sources would be put at risk with the construction of oil pipelines.

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