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Cowboy Indian Alliance

Populist alliances of ‘cowboys and Indians’ are protecting rural lands

By Zoltán Grossman - Waging Nonviolence, May 17, 2019

By appealing to the hearts and minds of their white neighbors, Native Americans are carving out common ground and building unity through diversity.

This article was first published by The Conversation under a Creative Commons license.

The sea of red on recent election maps make it look like rural areas are uniformly populated by Republicans. And conventional wisdom suggests that those Americans are largely conservative populists who question many government regulations and do not welcome cultural diversity.

But the growing influence of Native American nations in some rural areas is starting to change that picture. Empowered by their treaty rights, they are beginning to shift the values of their white neighbors toward a populism that cuts across racial and cultural lines to challenge large corporations.

I’m a geographer who studies the relationships between tribes and rural white farmers, ranchers and fishers. In my book “Unlikely Alliances: Native Nations and White Communities Join to Defend Rural Lands,” I relate what I learned through dozens of interviews with Native Americans and their non-Native allies who described how the tribes are fusing the power of their sovereignty with the populist grievances of the tribes’ historic enemies.

By teaming up to defend the place they all call home, they are protecting their lands and waters for all.

To Stop Keystone XL, 8,000 People in Just 24 Hours Make 'Promise to Protect'

By Jon Queally - Common Dreams, November 22, 2017

It's been less than 48 hours since a panel in Nebraska gave final approval for the Keystone XL pipeline to built in the state, but already more than 8,000 people have vowed to put their bodies on the lines—and in front of the construction path, if needed—to make sure the construction never happens.

The vow to stand against the pipeline—dubbed the "Promise to Protect"—was launched Monday during a gathering of Indigenous leaders and their allies in South Dakota who renewed their vows to defend sacred lands, waters, and sites against new pipelines and any expansion of the Canadian tar sands. The petition was then endorsed by other Native tribes, green groups, and high-profile climate activists.

Joye Braun, leader of the Wakpa Waste Camp at the Cheyenne River Sioux Reservation in South Dakota, said, "It gives me a great sense of hope and community to see nearly 8,000 people who have signed on to the 'Promise to Protect' our water, our homelands, our people, and to stand in solidarity with us on the ground. Especially our Indigenous communities, our tribes, and our farmer and rancher friends. This is hope, this is power—people power."

Faith Spotted Eagle, member of the Yankton Sioux Nation, said the surge of people commiting to stand against Keystone XL shows the Monday's decision was not a win for pipeline owner TransCanada.  "Continued attempted assaults on Mother Earth are never winning actions," she said. "The No KXL Dakota/Lakota gathering at Kul Wicasa on the same day of November 20 is an exciting renewed strong circle of allies who walk forward  stronger than ever. We will prevail in our spiritual movement."

People can sign the petition as individuals, but entire organizations can also make the commitment.

"TransCanada has many hurdles still ahead on Keystone XL, and if they ever run out, thousands of people have promised to be the biggest one," added May Boeve, exectuive director of 350.org, also backing the petition. "This pipeline's route through the upper Midwest has been hampered at every turn for nearly a decade, and we're doing all we can to keep it that way."

EcoUnionist News #119 - #NoDAPL Update

Compiled by x344543 - IWW Environmental Unionism Caucus, August 31, 2016

Statement from Standing Rock Sioux Tribal Chairman, Dave Archambault II, August 15, 2016:

The United States via the Army Corps of Engineers is in the mist of moving ahead with an oil pipeline that officials are claiming is not potentially harmful to the Standing Rock Sioux Nation. I am here to advise anyone that will listen, that the Dakota Access Pipeline Project is harmful. It will not be just harmful to my people but its intent and construction will harm the water in the Missouri River, which is one of the cleanest and safest river tributary left in the United States.

We have been told by the officials that there will be breaches in the pipe line, but they claim that the situations are generally never very bad. This is unacceptable.

Our Mother Earth is sacred. All things evolve and work together. To poison the water, is to poison the substance of life. Everything that moves must have water. How can we talk about and knowingly poison water?

I’ve been told and taught that it is our responsibility to stand for our relatives, the ones that crawl, the ones that fly, the ones that burrow, the ones that swim, the ones that flower. Relatives that cannot speak for themselves. Who will speak for them? We have to speak for those who are not here – our ancestors, for those children who are not yet born. Our ancestors left sacred sites for us. We have to speak for them. Children not yet born will not live without water. We have to speak for them.

Several of our Lakota and Dakota relatives have had visions and dreams. They have been visited in a spiritual sense and have been told that there is a black poisonous snake trying to come among us. Our relatives have said this.

Our instructions say snakes are good – they serve a great purpose in the web of life. Our elders and the elders before them have given us wonderful teachings and a beautiful way to live and co-exist with all that is, however, the black poisonous snake we are being warned about does not come from the Creator. It is man-made and the creature is made of nothing but Greed. There is nothing good that has ever come from Greed. Greed is pure poison. It blinds and twists thinking. It is what my people have endured and continue to endure.

Right now the Rosebud reservation, the Cheyenne River reservation, the Pine Ridge reservation and my Standing Rock reservation represent five of the 10 poorest places or counties in the United States, according to the 2010 Census. Our state of being is not our fault. We did not cause this. United States lawmakers and their policies caused this. Why?? Greed – and now again, even what little we have left is under attack.

Is it too much to respectfully and peaceably request that we not live in fear of being bitten by this creature of eminent harm? Isn’t living in fear and terror unacceptable in the United States?

The United States should use all its will and power to be a real great world leader. It should swear off oil production because we all know it is harmful to it is to our planet. The United States should use all its wisdom and technology to develop alternative sources of power. It should be a great wise leader to preserve and enhance this earth, not knowingly destroy the webs of life.

What I ask is that my fellow American citizens stand with my people to stand with us. I ask you to please call or write your Senators and Representative to stop this blindness and this greed.

And, if nothing else, please, offer a prayer for my people and all the people who are standing with us in prayer. Just offer some thoughts of protection for us. We ask that you offer a prayer for sensibility and common sense on behalf of all the two-legged that walk as this is not just a Lakota/Dakota issue, this is a human issue.

This land that is being disturbed was once ours. Our people, our Indian Nations lived and governed our peoples all over this territory. This land across the Cannonball River that is now threatened was forcibly taken from us and there was nothing that we could do about it then and now.

Nonetheless, we still believe that we are the keepers of this beautiful land. Although it was taken from us, we know, we must stand and speak on this land’s behalf. We want everyone and the federal government to respect this land and take care of it. That is why our people are standing up and standing with the land and water. We have to be here. It is instructions that the Creator has given us. We have to be here. We have to stand to protect ourselves and those cannot speak for themselves.

When the President of the United States came to Cannonball, I did not ask him for anything. I tried to let his wife, Michelle and him, see for themselves a little of our reality. They saw our people in our happiest times, singing and dancing, but they also heard the tough reality of life for so many of our youth.

I believe both were impacted but knowing what I know now, I wish I would have asked President Obama to help us in this struggle.

I will pass away someday, which is all part of the Creator’s plan, but I have a son and daughter. I have no doubt that they will give me grandchildren. What will we leave for our grandchildren? Poisoned water? The substance of Life! In my language, we describe water as the source of Life. We say Mni Wiconi!

My Tribe asks how can we live with ourselves if we don’t respect the rights and needs of our future generations?

Today I realize that everything happens for a reason. Although I didn’t ask the President for a dime, I see our people are peacefully speaking out in a good way now. This is hugely important to my Tribe and all of our Tribal Nations. This peaceful demonstration is a cry to stop the desecration of land and water.

I pray that the powers that be, hear our prayer because all this behavior we are exhibiting is a prayer on our part.

Thank you for listening and enjoy your families, your children and grandchildren.

To Join in the Struggle

EcoUnionist News #118 - #NoDAPL Resistance

Compiled by x344543 and x378016 - IWW Environmental Unionism Caucus, August 24, 2016

From Democracy Now: "In North Dakota, more than a thousand indigenous activists from different tribes have converged at the Sacred Stone Spirit Camp, where protesters are blocking construction of the proposed $3.8 billion Dakota Access pipeline. Protesters say the pipeline would threaten to contaminate the Missouri River, which provides water not only for the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe, but for millions of people downstream.

Native Activist Winona LaDuke: Pipeline Company Enbridge Has No Right to Destroy Our Future – Winona LaDuke interviewed by Amy Goodman, Democracy Now, August 23, 2016

Excerpt from the interview:

AMY GOODMAN: Last month, Winona, the Laborers’ International Union of North America endorsed the Dakota Access pipeline. Terry O’Sullivan, general president of LIUNA, said in a statement, quote, "The men and women of LIUNA applaud the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers for its fair and thorough review of the Dakota Access Pipeline. ... For the highly skilled and trained men and women of LIUNA, projects like the Dakota Access are more than just pipelines. They are crucial lifelines to family-supporting jobs," they said. Laborers Local 563 business agent Cory Bryson said, quote, "We’ve been inundated with calls from all over the country from people wanting to work on this pipeline project. Mainline pipeline projects like Dakota Access provide excellent working opportunities for our members and tremendous wages." Your response, Winona LaDuke?

WINONA LADUKE: My response is that the United States has a D in infrastructure. That’s why bridges collapse. That’s why Flint, Michigan, has a problem. That’s why everything is eroding in this country. And what we need is those skilled laborers to be put to work, pipelines for people. I’m saying take those pipes that are sitting there in northern Minnesota, and send them to Flint, Michigan. They need billions of dollars’ worth of pipe infrastructure out there. We don’t need any pipes in northern Minnesota. I say that most of our Indian reservations don’t have adequate infrastructure. We’d like a little help with our water and sewer systems there. I am all for organized labor, but what I want is I want pipelines, I want infrastructure, for people, not for fossil fuels, not for oil companies. So I am all for that. There are plenty of people that could be put to work. And it’s five times as many jobs doing infrastructure for communities, doing for people, than one shot throw a pipe down and hope it works out for you. So I’m asking American labor to stand with us and to say we want pipelines, we want infrastructure, that goes for people, that goes for communities, and not for oil companies that are going to destroy our environment and cause more climate change destruction to our planet.

LaDuke is correct, as the folks at Labor Network for Sustainability pointed three years ago in reference to the Keystone XL Pipeline (see The Keystone Pipeline Debate: An Alternative Job Creation Strategy - by Kristen Sheeran, et. al., Labor Network for Sustainability, 2013). There's absolutely no reason for the Building Trades to needlessly hitch their wagons to this extractivist capitalist boondoggle.

Iww member and camper and organizer against the pipeline had this to say:

"we need the support of people now more than ever and there are numerous ways you can support. The health of the land is a human rights issue and a labor issue. The labor movement must stand firmly against the attempts of the capitalist class to pull the people into false solutions that only mean unsustainable jobs and practices that will do nothing to alleviate the hardships of working people during this current economic downturn. We should be pushing alternatives for ways to improve our communities and heal the land, not destroy the very land base we depend on for survival. There are no jobs on a dead planet."

To Join in the Struggle

What the Cowboy-Indian Alliance Means for America and the Climate Movement

By Devon Douglas-Bowers - Occupy.Com, October 8, 2014

Disclaimer: The views expressed here are not the official position of the IWW (or even the IWW’s EUC) and do not necessarily represent the views of anyone but the author’s.

The Cowboy-Indian Alliance made waves in April when participants led a five-day "Reject and Protect" campaign in Washington, D.C., against the proposed Keystone XL pipeline. The action was prominent and gained notice in the media, although the origins of the alliance haven’t fully been bought to light – nor the historical importance of such an alliance.

Art Tanderup, a Nebraska farmer who has vocally protested against Keystone XL, stated in an April interview that the alliance formed several years ago due to the “common interests between farmers, ranchers and Native Americans in northern Nebraska and southern South Dakota."

"We’ve come together as brothers and sisters to fight this Keystone XL pipeline, because of the risk to the Ogallala Aquifer, to the land, to the health of the people,” he said. The pipeline is a threat to both communities, he added, as the Ogallala Aquifer – the country's largest underground water source, located beneath the Great Plains – not only provides water for 2.3 million people but also “threatens the Missouri River, which provides drinking water for probably a couple 'nother million,” bringing the total number whose water supply is threatened by construction of the pipeline to about 5 million people.

In addition, the aquifer provides water for animals, livestock and irrigation. All of this means that, contrary to oil industry claims, the pipeline in fact imperils the health and economic stability of the Midwest.

For the Rosebud Sioux Tribe and the Great Sioux Nation, there is also a historical significance to this battle. As Tanderup stated in the interview, part of the pipeline’s route, as well as his own farm, “is on the Ponca Trail of Tears from back in the 1870s, when Chief Standing Bear and his people were driven from the Niobrara area to Oklahoma.”

The extraction processes, such as tar sands mining and the refining and dilution processes used to obtain the oil, are extremely dangerous. Nez Perce activist Gary Dorr noted in the same interview that before the oil extraction started, Fort Chip in Canada had “a negligible cancer rate,” but now they “[have] a cancer rate 400 times the national Canadian per capita average. Every single family [in Fort Chip] has cancer in their families.”

TransCanada Faces United Front in South Dakota: Tribes and Landowners Say NO KXL

Staff Report - Native News Online, August 21, 2014

Disclaimer: The views expressed here are not the official position of the IWW (or even the IWW’s EUC) and do not necessarily represent the views of anyone but the author’s.

IHANKTONWAN, SOUTH DAKOTA – ­ TransCanada faces yet another hurdle in its effort to build the Keystone XL pipeline. A coalition of long­existing pipeline fighters in South Dakota have come together to extend their share division of protecting the land, the water and the peoples of the area. An alliance of Protect the Sacred Movement of the Ihanktonwan/Yankton; the Bridger Spiritual Camp, Pte Ospaye; the Lower Brule Spiritual Camp, Wiconi Un Tipi; the Rosebud Spiritual Camp, Oyate Wahacanka Woecun; Dakota Rural Action; and the Indigenous Environmental Network are launching No KXL Dakota, a united effort to fight the Keystone XL pipeline.

Before TransCanada can build within state borders, the company must certify its permit, proving it still meets the original permit conditions. The coalition is preparing to fight the permit certification at the South Dakota Public Utilities Commission, and expects the company to file for certification this year.

“Oceti Rising,” says Faith Spotted Eagle, with Protect the Sacred, “is reaffirming our sovereignty as nations and strengthening our protection of Mother Earth. Water is life, Mni Wiconi. Oceti means fire and could also represent unity between non Native and Natives in protecting their homefires.”

Warren Buffett's Coal Problem : To run his coal trains, the billionaire investor needs to seize land from a bunch of Montana cowboys; That's not going over very well

By Marc Gunther - Sierra, May & June, 2013

Disclaimer: The views expressed here are not the official position of the IWW (or even the IWW’s EUC) and do not necessarily represent the views of anyone but the author’s.

It's easy to see why Warren Buffet is called America's most admired investor. The 82-year-old chairman and CEO of Berkshire Hathaway has made gobs of money—$53.5 billion, at last count—and has pledged to give away 99 percent of it. Despite his wealth, Buffett is folksy, unpretentious, and grateful for what he describes as his good luck. He lives in the modest Omaha, Nebraska, home that he bought in 1958 for $31,500 and eats at the local Dairy Queen. (He owns the chain.)

Buffett also gets favorable attention—and deservedly so—for Berkshire's large investments in solar power, wind farms, and the Chinese electric car company BYD. When Berkshire's Iowa-based MidAmerican Energy Holdings Company bought a 579-megawatt solar photovoltaic project in California's Antelope Valley in January, the headlines read, "Warren Buffett in $2 Billion Solar Deal" and "Warren Buffett Continues His Solar Buying Spree." So influential is Buffett as an investor that solar stocks surged on the news. MidAmerican's renewable energy unit also owns a 550-megawatt solar project in San Luis Obispo County, California, and a 49 percent stake in a 290-megawatt solar plant in Yuma County, Arizona. Those are among the biggest solar projects in the world.

A subsidiary of MidAmerican, called MidAmerican Energy Company, a regulated utility with customers in Iowa, Illinois, South Dakota, and Nebraska, has helped build Iowa's thriving wind power industry. Thirty percent of its portfolio is wind-powered generation. "It has been a great and low-key leader," says Bruce Nilles, senior director of the Sierra Club's Beyond Coal campaign.

But Buffett has a problem—a coal problem. In addition to its solar and wind operations, MidAmerican Energy Holdings relies on coal for roughly half of its 18,000-megawatt generating capacity. Buffett's Burlington Northern Sante Fe (BNSF) Railway Company derives a quarter of its $20 billion in annual revenues from transporting coal, and it lobbies aggressively on the industry's behalf. Berkshire Hathaway is one of the very few major U.S. companies that don't disclose their greenhouse gas emissions, and it has opposed shareholders who ask it to do so.

Nowhere is Buffett's green reputation taking more of a beating, though, than in a remote and sparsely populated corner of southeastern Montana. Ranchers, Native Americans, and Amish farmers there are fighting to preserve their livelihoods and landscapes, which are threatened by what, if developed, would be one of the biggest coal strip mines in the West. And shipping all that coal to West Coast ports would be Warren Buffett's BNSF Railway.

New Environmentalists Are Taking Bold Action - It's Working

By Kevin Zeese and Margaret Flowers - Alternet and Popular Resistence, May 23, 2014

Disclaimer: The views expressed here are not the official position of the IWW (or even the IWW’s EUC) and do not necessarily represent the views of anyone but the author’s. 

No longer dominated by the traditional “Big Green” groups that were taking big donations from corporate polluters, the new environmental movement is broader, more assertive and more creative. With extreme energy extraction and climate change bearing down on the world, environmental justice advocates are taking bold actions to stop extreme energy extraction and create new solutions to save the planet.  These ‘fresh greens’ often work locally, but also connect through national and international actions.

The recent national climate assessment explains why the movement is deepening, broadening and getting more militant. The nation’s experts concluded that climate change is impacting us in serious ways right now.  It is no longer a question of whether climate change is real – the evidence is apparent in chaotic seasonal weather; floods caused by heavier downpours of rain and deeper droughts; more severe wildfires in the West; the economic impacts of rising insurance rates, as well as challenges for farming, maple syrup production, and finding seafood in the oceans, among many others.

The U.N. Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) recently issued its third report. The world’s scientists found that taking action now to mitigate climate change is less expensive than doing nothing. German economist Ottmar Edenhofer, a co-chair of the IPCC committee wrote: “We cannot afford to lose another decade. If we lose another decade, it becomes extremely costly to achieve climate stabilization.” Previous reports have warned of the dangers of human-induced climate change, e.g. faster sea level rise, more extreme weather, and collapse of the permafrost sink, which would further accelerate warming; as well as a breakdown of food systems, more violent conflicts, and making some currently habited and arable land virtually unlivable.

The IPCC and national assessment create a sense of urgency even though the reality is these documents understate the risks and the need to end the use of fossil fuels.  This week it was reported that the IPCC’s language was toned down during the political review in which countries that produce carbon fuels, like Saudi Arabia, Brazil, China and the United States, edited language to protect fossil fuel interests.

The effects of the race to extract every ounce of fuel from the Earth can’t be hidden. A report this week found US oil spills increased by 17% in 2013, with more than 20 per day leaking 26 million gallons of oil, fracking wastewater and more. In February significant five fossil fuel accidents were reported in four days. This week Los Angeles was the latest to experience the impact of an oil spill when 50,000 gallons of crude oil flowed down their streets and required evacuation.  The adverse environmental and health effects of all forms of energy extraction are coming to light from mountain top removal for coal in Appalachia to uranium mining in the West. Even four years after the oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico, there is no restoration in sight.

When Cowboys and Indians Unite - Inside the Unlikely Alliance that is Remaking the Climate Movement

By Kristin Moe - Waging Nonviolence, May 2, 2014

Disclaimer: The views expressed here are not the official position of the IWW (or even the IWW’s EUC) and do not necessarily represent the views of anyone but the author’s.

It began with a dream and a memory.

Faith Spotted Eagle slept. In her sleep, she saw her grandmother lying on a table, wrapped in a blanket with her white braids on her chest.

Her sister appeared. “What’s going on?” Spotted Eagle asked.

“I don’t know. They told us to come.”

A door opened; a room full of people, ancestors, stared silently. She felt in their stares a sadness, but also a strength. Another door opened to another room with the same scene. She knew that if she were to keep opening doors, all the rooms in the house would be filled with those watchful, silent ancestors.

Spotted Eagle closed her eyes, unsure of what do to, but knowing that it was impolite to stare back. Then her grandmother’s voice came to her.

The nightmare that’s fostering kinship

The day after Nebraska rancher Bob Allpress rode through the nation’s capitol on horseback in a cavalry contingent of ranchers and tribal members, he was a little stiff. He doesn’t ride much anymore. But Allpress, with his bandana, boots and well-groomed mustache, still looks every inch the cowboy.

When the pipeline route through Nebraska was changed in 2012, ostensibly to avoid the ecologically-sensitive Sandhills, the newly proposed path now cut straight through the Allpress’ alfalfa field. If built, the pipeline would lie just 200 yards from their house.

This is no ordinary pipeline, just as tar sands is no ordinary oil. According to a Natural Resources Defense Council report, tar sands oil is 3.6 times more likely to spill than regular oil. It is also highly corrosive and nearly impossible to clean up. Residents who live near the path of Keystone 1 — a smaller, already existing tar sands pipeline operated by TransCanada — know this story already. They saw 14 spills — along its route from Canada to refineries in Oklahoma and Illinois — during the pipeline’s first year of operation.

The southern portion of the Keystone XL has already been built through Texas, in spite of grassroots resistance; now, the last northern section remains. Allpress fears that a tar sands spill would contaminate his land and water, rendering it unusable for years to come.

TransCanada used what Allpress calls “the old slap and tickle” when it notified him that the pipeline would go through his land: a nice offer of some compensation up front, but a warning that under the law of eminent domain, the pipeline would go through no matter what.

“TransCanada’s been nothing but deceitful and a bully the entire time,” he said. And in the words of his wife, Nancy, “We felt like we were the sacrifice.”

But cowboys don’t like to be pushed around. So they told TransCanada to shove it, and joined Bold Nebraska, a four-year-old organization led by Jane Kleeb that has emerged as one of TransCanada’s most formidable obstacles. When Bold Nebraska began partnering with tribes in South Dakota, the Allpresses were on board. They’ve since attended their first tribal council meetings, gone to rallies and public hearings, and written op-eds to Nebraska papers, refuting what Allpress calls TransCanada’s massive public relations campaign.

Environmental activism isn’t exactly what the Allpresses had in mind when they returned to Nebraska to retire from careers in government and the military, and investing what they had in their land.

Get Intersectional! (Or, Why Your Movement Can't Go It Alone)

By Kristin Moe - Yes Magazine, April 4, 2014

Disclaimer: The views expressed here are not the official position of the IWW (or even the IWW’s EUC) and do not necessarily represent the views of anyone but the author’s.

"Intersectionality" has evolved from a theory of how oppression works to a notion of how people can fight it.

"There is no such thing as a single-issue struggle because we do not live single-issue lives." –Audre Lorde

Here’s the scenario: This year’s epic drought devastates agriculture in California. Water use is rationed, so the cost of grain goes up, and, because cattle eat grain, the cost of beef goes up too. To cut expenses, the owners of a fast food restaurant cut a worker's wages and benefits by a couple bucks an hour. Next month he won’t be able to send money to his wife and kids back in Mexico, where the same drought is also decimating farms—and may be contributing to even more northward migration.

What’s the origin of the restaurant worker’s predicament?

Is it climate change, which makes droughts more severe and more likely to persist? Is it the labor policies that allowed the worker's wages to be cut? Or is it that NAFTA has flooded the Mexican market with cheap, U.S.-grown corn since 1996, forcing him to leave his family’s farm and migrate to California in the first place?

The likely answer is that it’s a little bit of everything. “People don’t have one dimensional identities as human beings,” says Brooke Anderson—a Labor Fellow at the Oakland-based nonprofit, the Movement Generation Justice and Ecology Project—and the issues that affect them aren’t one-dimensional, either.

There’s a word for this kind of thinking: "intersectionality." And while the word has been around for more than 25 years, it’s being used more and more frequently all over in social justice movements today, from climate to reproductive rights to immigration. It’s a way of thinking holistically about how different forms of oppression interact in people’s lives. More recently, it's also led to a more collaborative form of organizing that reflects that, rather than taking on one issue at a time.

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