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Great interruption could end pipelines

Judith Le Blanc joins the newscast to discuss how grassroots, political power plays into the future of Indigenous environmental safety.  Plus correspondent Carina Dominguez has more from the frontlines to keep the Oak Flat campground intact.
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What does it take to transport oil across the country? Who is affected? How is the land effected. For years Native American groups have protested and resisted the construction of pipelines because of their threat to the environment and tribal lands. Americans have a deep dependency on oil yet that could be changing. Besides a new presidential administration, major companies like GM are making plans for a future, much less dependent on oil. That's all welcome news for many leaders who have worked hard to raise the issue and stop the construction. Judith Le Blanc, Caddo, is one such leader. She is director of the Native Organizers Alliance, and she joins us today to talk about the latest developments and what hopes she sees for the future.

And our correspondent Carina Dominguez has more on why several tribes and groups are suing the United States. Carina speaks with citizens of the San Carlos Apache tribe who have updates on litigation over the Oak Flat campground - an area they consider sacred. The Apache Stronghold vs. U.S. preliminary injunction hearing was rescheduled for Wednesday, February 3, 2021 at 9am MST. To attend the hearing via Zoom, email the public information officer for access 

A slice of our Indigenous world

  • More consequences for a wealthy Canadian couple that traveled to the Yukon and pretended to be local motel workers in order to get an early vaccine.
  • The Tulalip Tribe in Marysville Washington is making a generous donation to help out educators. 
  • How the Cherokee Phoenix’s Elder/Veteran Fund plan to spend 15 thousand dollars in donations.
  • California assemblymember James Ramos, San Manuel Band of Mission Indians, is introducing a bill to replace the statue of Franciscan friar Junipero Serra.
  • Two Zillah winemakers and a wine labeling company have agreed to stop using names from the Yakama Nation’s traditional language after being sued by the tribe.

You find more details on all of these stories at the top of today's newscast.

Some quotes from today's show

Judith Le Blanc:

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"Well ‘permanent has changed, the definition of it. Right now, we're in the greatest interruption of our economic, political and cultural lives ever due to COVID. And people are really thinking about what is permanent, what a sustainable and green energy is the way. This victory marks that transition that the Biden administration is trying to usher in."

"The truth is that we have been thinking about this, Native peoples have been thinking about this since the beginning of time, what is a sustainable regenerative way to live? To live in balance, in good relationship with the natural world. That's exactly why we won on KXL. We wove prayer and ceremony and traditional knowledge with organizing. That's a key blend right there."

"The truth is the KXL pipeline victory was won from prayer ceremony, lawsuits, protests, testifying at hearings, and signing treaties among the Native leadership and tribal leaders, for instance, like the treaty to protect the sacred. But the key element in all of this was really building grassroots, Native political power. And without doing that, we'd be left protesting and suing. Whereas in 2020 we showed the grassroots political power, Native grassroots political power, is the key to victory."

Carina Dominguez:

"This area in eastern Arizona has been held sacred by the Apache people and now it’s at risk of being desecrated all because of a multinational mining corporation. San Carlos Apache tribal members are defending Chi’chil Bildagoteel, the land now known as the Oak Flat campground, with their lives. Former tribal chairman Wendsler Nosie, Sr. is leading the effort with the grassroots organization he founded, Apache Stronghold."

"Oak Flat is 40 miles west of the San Carlos Apache reservation and tribal members marched the distance in 2015 with plans to occupy Oak Flat for quote, “how ever long it takes”. Laura Medina is Ojibwe and was raised on the Fort McDowell Yavapai nation in Arizona. After spending time at Oak Flat and being invited to camp out, she felt obligated to stay and give back to the region that helped raise her."

"Two of the largest mining corporations in the world have their sights set on the land. Wendsler is living at Oak Flat full-time now, after camping on and off for the last five years, to ensure that resolution copper does not sink a 2 mile wide crater through their holy place. He says shots have been fired near his daughter’s head and he’s been robbed of supplies twice at the campground. They believe it’s part of the attempt to give away land that belongs to western Apache people."

Mark Trahant, Shoshone-Bannock, is editor of Indian Country Today. On Twitter: @TrahantReports Trahant is based in Phoenix. 

Carina Dominguez, Pascua Yaqui, is a correspondent for the Indian Country Today Newscast. She covers news, politics and environmental issues. She’s most familiar with southwest tribes and splits her time between Phoenix, Arizona and New York, New York., Twitter: @Carinad7, Instagram: @CarinaNicole7

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