WASHINGTON, Sept. 2, 2011 /PRNewswire/ - American Indian and Canadian Native leaders were arrested today in front of the White House. Representatives of Native governments and organizations from the United States and Canada traveled long distances to Washington DC to tell President Barack Obama not to issue a permit for the construction of a controversial 1,700 mile pipeline from Canada to the Gulf Coast.
"The Dene people in northern Canada passed a resolution standing in solidarity with Native Americans and other people opposing the Keystone XL pipeline. We want the people of America to hear our concerns, as people that live downstream from the tar sands development" said Chief Bill Erasmus, Dene Regional Chief of NWT and representative of the Assembly of First Nations.
Gitz Deranger, Dene from Fort Chipewyan, Alberta, living downstream from the tar sands, says, "I have seen the devastation of our people's health with increased cancer deaths. If Obama approves this pipeline, it would only lead to more of our people needlessly dying."
"Our Lakota people oppose this pipeline because of the potential contamination of the surface water and of the Ogallala aquifer," says Deb White Plume, Lakota grassroots leader, with Owe Aku, an Oglala Lakota organization in South Dakota. "We have thousands of ancient and historical cultural resources that would be destroyed across our treaty lands. It's my responsibility as a woman to stand with Mother Earth against corporate male dominated greed. White Plume stood proud as her hands were handcuffed behind her back and led away.
"This is a matter of life and death. Our human rights should not be on the altar of US energy policy," says Pat Spears, a Lakota, with Intertribal Council on Utility Policy, of South Dakota.
Chief George Stanley, Regional Chief of Alberta said the pipeline was initiated under the previous Bush administration and inherited by Obama. "Our First Nations in Alberta have been concerned of the lack of consultation of the pipeline and tar sand expansion. President Obama can do what's right. The President's approval of this pipeline is not in the national interest of US or Canada."
Tom Goldtooth, of the Indigenous Environmental Network, the organization that organized the Indigenous Day of Action in DC said, "The tar sands and pipeline infrastructure are weapons of mass destruction leading the path to triggering the final overheating of Mother Earth. President Obama made promises to Native Nations. Here is an opportunity for him to honor those promises and be a man of conscience by standing up to corporate power and saying no to the Keystone XL pipeline."
SOURCE Indigenous Environmental Network