One of the most significant events for environmental justice and human rights occurred Thursday, September 24, when over 50 tribes and First Nations in Canada and the U.S. signed the Treaty Alliance Against Tar Sands Extraction. Since then the number of signatories has risen to close to 100. The treaty formalizes the recent gathering of so many Native Americans and First Nations people in North Dakota in solidarity in their resistance to the Dakota Access Pipeline, and includes opposition to the transportation of tar sands.
“Therefore, our Nations hereby join together under the present treaty to officially prohibit and to agree to collectively challenge and resist the use of our respective territories and coasts in connection with the expansion of the production of the Alberta Tar Sands, including for the transport of such expanded production, whether by pipeline, rail or tanker.
As sovereign Indigenous Nations, we enter this treaty pursuant to our inherent legal authority and responsibility to protect our respective territories from threats to our lands, waters, air and climate, but we do so knowing full well that it is in the best interest of all peoples, both Indigenous and non-Indigenous, to put a stop to the threat of Tar Sands expansion.”
Those of us who fought against the Keystone Pipeline know that we joined the resistance that had been started by the First Nations in Canada. The Cowboy and Indian Alliance was very effective in the U.S. The work of indigenous people in Canada and the U.S. was the primary reason President Obama rejected the Keystone Pipeline.
It is the spiritual and moral force of these efforts that have prevailed, and will continue to succeed, against the massive amounts of money and political influence of the fossil fuel industry. Quakers and other people of faith have been blessed to be engaged in these efforts.
“We urgently need to get off oil to prevent a climate disaster for our People— not to dig a deeper hole.” Grand Chief Stewart Phillip of the Union of British Columbia Indian Chiefs