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Energy Committee Meeting Sees Indigenous Representation – A ‘Gavel’

Indigenous representation made its way into a Senate Energy and Natural Resources’ Committee meeting on Keystone XL in the form of a gavel.
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Senator Lisa Murkowski, R-Alaska, concluded her first day as the new chair of the Senate Energy and Natural Resources’ Committee on January 8 with a Tsimshian “gavel.” The Committee meeting was on the Keystone XL Legislation, and the use of the “gavel” raised questions for some on why it’s the only indigenous representation in these discussions so far?

RELATED: Murkowski Schedules Keystone XL Bill Markup Meeting

Dallas Goldtooth, co-founder of the 1491s and Keystone activist, along with the Indigenous Environmental Network released a statement following the meeting and current Senate discussions on the Keystone XL Pipeline stating that IEN is curious where the indigenous representation is.

“Given that the proposed Keystone XL route passes through Oceti Sakowin — Lakota, Dakota and Nakota Sioux – territory in the Great Plains, and given that Senator Murkowski has been a longtime member of the Senate Indian Affairs Committee, we wonder why Native voices have not been included in these US Congressional discussions on the issue,” the statement says. “These nations have not been properly consulted on the construction of this pipeline, as is required by US Federal Law, and South Dakota state law.”

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The statement urges the U.S. Congress to acknowledge the treaty, water and land rights of American Indians across Turtle Island while challenge the Alaska Senator to “hear what tribal nations have to say on the matter of this ‘transboundary’ issue.”

IEN showed its support in standing with First Nations Cree and Dene people of northern Alberta who have strongly demanded the tar sands oil development in Canada be shut down. IEN encourages the green energy movement for a sustainable economy and a healthier climate in the future.

Sen. Murkowski, who in the past has been a supporter of Native issues has been one of the loudest Republican voices pushing for the passage of the pipeline through Congress quickly.

“Senator Murkowski blatantly ignores the concerns of thousands of Indigenous Peoples threatened by the passage of the pipeline as she promotes Senate approval for the project,” Faith Gemmill, Executive Director Resisting Environmental Destruction on Indigenous Lands (REDOIL) said in a released statement. “Senator Murkowski claims to have great respect for Indigenous Peoples but her actions continually support development projects and legislation that threaten tribal sovereignty and food security of Indigenous communities whether it is by pushing Keystone XL legislation or seeking development of the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge and offshore oil development in the Chukchi and Beaufort Seas.”

The archived broadcast of the Energy Committee meeting can be seen here.