Rep. Tulsi Gabbard (D-Hawaii) has joined the growing chorus of opposition to a controversial pipeline threatening the rights of Native Americans in North Dakota. In a campaign email, Gabbard called for supporters to sign a petition in solidarity “against a greedy oil company and an Army Corp of Engineers that have failed to properly follow the law or actually address the important issues of the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe and neighboring communities.”
Hawaii, like North Dakota, has one of the largest indigenous populations in the United States.
Gabbard was one of the few elected officials to endorse Sen. Bernie Sanders’ campaign for the presidency, a move she announced in concert with resigning from the top leadership of the Democratic National Committee. Sanders has also come out in opposition to the pipeline, offering a Senate amendment to require environmental statement for the pipeline.
There is nothing more important than protecting the air we breathe, the land we call home, and the water we drink.
That’s why I opposed the Keystone Pipeline. If we are going to take climate change seriously, we must begin to say no to the construction of new pipelines and shift away from fossil fuels to create an energy policy that is sustainable and safe for our future.
For that same reason, and others I have detailed below, I am opposing the creation of the Dakota Access Pipeline.
This pipeline, which would run from North Dakota to South Dakota, Iowa and Illinois, is more than just bad for our environment. It threatens the water supply and tribal lands of the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe in North Dakota.
As we speak, hundreds of Native Americans have joined together to protest this pipeline and they are continuing to engage in a long legal process to stop its construction permanently. Over the weekend, these protests turned violent when construction crews destroyed sacred cultural heritage sites and even deployed guard dogs to attack protesters.
Thirty protesters were pepper sprayed and six people were bitten, including a young child. That is appalling and unacceptable.
We cannot remain silent while so many of our brothers and sisters continue to stand up against a greedy oil company and an Army Corp of Engineers that have failed to properly follow the law or actually address the important issues of the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe and neighboring communities.
Can I count on you to stand with me and our Native American brothers, sisters, and friends by adding your name to our petition opposing the Dakota Access Pipeline?
I will do my best to make sure this issue is addressed in Congress and to have your signature delivered to the organizers of these protests as well as the companies involved in the construction.
We will be in touch soon about our next steps and what more we can do to help ensure this pipeline is never completed.
While in Laos, President Barack Obama was caught unprepared by a question on Native Americans’ efforts to stop the construction of an oil pipeline in North Dakota. The pipeline, now under construction, is intended to transport fracked North Dakota oil to Iowa so that it can reach Texas refineries for export. The pipeline route crosses the Missouri River upstream of the Standing Rock Sioux water supply, through ancestral lands bordering the reservation.
The final question of a multinational youth town-hall forum came from a Malaysian activist “in solidarity with the indigenous people” of America “fighting to protect their ancestral land against the Dakota Access pipeline.”
Obama responded that one of his priorities is “restoring an honest and generous and respectful relationship with Native American tribes,” and argued that “we have actually restored more rights among Native Americans to their ancestral lands, sacred sites, waters, hunting grounds” during his term than under the Reagan, Clinton and Bush presidencies.
However, he said he’d “have to go back to my staff and find out how are we doing” on this particular violation of Native Americans’ ancestral lands, sacred sites, waters, and hunting grounds.
OBAMA: Malaysia. Okay, go ahead, right here.
Q I’m from the state of Sabah in Malaysia. My question is, in solidarity with the indigenous people in—not my country, but in America itself. I just heard recently that this group of people is fighting to protect their ancestral land against the Dakota Access pipeline. So my question is, in your capacity, what can you do to ensure the protection of the ancestral land, the supply of clean water, and also environmental justice is upheld? (Applause.)
OBAMA: Well, it’s a great question. As many of you know, the way that Native Americans were treated was tragic. One of the priorities that I’ve had as President is restoring an honest and generous and respectful relationship with Native American tribes. And so we have made an unprecedented investment in meeting regularly with the tribes, helping them design ideas and plans for economic development, for education, for health that is culturally appropriate for them.
And this issue of ancestral lands and helping them preserve their way of life is something that we have worked very hard on. Now, some of these issues are caught up with laws and treaties, and so I can’t give you details on this particular case. I’d have to go back to my staff and find out how are we doing on this one.
But what I can tell you is, is that we have actually restored more rights among Native Americans to their ancestral lands, sacred sites, waters, hunting grounds. We have done a lot more work on that over the last eight years than we had in the previous 20, 30 years. And this is something that I hope will continue as we go forward. But it’s an excellent question.
Iowans will once again engage in acts of nonviolent civil disobedience on Saturday to stop construction of the Dakota Access pipeline “that is using eminent domain for private gain, and threatens our land, water and climate,” a coalition of climate activists has announced. Following a non-violence training in the morning, the civil-disobedience action will commence at noon.
“Standing with farmers, landowners and our tribal allies in North Dakota, more and more Iowans are contacting me to say they’re ready to risk nonviolent direct action to stop this assault on our water, climate and property rights,” said Ed Fallon, director of Bold Iowa, in a press release.
The “Bakken Pipeline Pledge of Resistance,” supported by Bold Iowa, Iowa CCI, CREDO Action and 100 Grannies for a Livable Future, has now been signed by 2,100 citizens, with over 500 pledging to risk arrest in acts of peaceful nonviolent civil disobedience to stop construction on the pipeline. On Aug. 31, 30 people were arrested in a direct action in Boone County.
Dakota Access has filed suit against Bold Iowa and Iowa CCI, along with Ed Fallon and Adam Mason, seeking an injunction “to silence our First Amendment rights to speech and free assembly with actions to protest the pipeline,” in the words of Fallon. A hearing on those charges is scheduled in federal court on Sept. 29. The 30 citizens who were arrested on Aug. 31 will appear in court in Boone County on Sept. 15.
The nonviolence training will begin at 9:00 am in the Mickle Center, 1620 Pleasant St, Des Moines. At noon, participants will be transported to the pipeline construction site for the action.