This morning Indigenous organizers and allies shut down the lobby of the Gibson Dunn law firm in Washington D.C, protesting their involvement in trying to strike down the Indian Child Welfare Act for their big oil client, Energy Transfer. The Supreme Court is hearing arguments on Haaland v Brackeen today and will decide if they will gut ICWA in 2023, which will further weaken tribal sovereignty. Organizers entered the lobby with a drum singing prayer songs before security removed them from the building.
Matthew McGill, a lawyer at Gibson Dunn, is representing the Brackeens in this case pro bono, alongside Paul Clement, an attorney who has a history of regularly attacking existing Indian law and worked to disestablish the Mashpee Tribe’s reservation in 2020. Gibson Dunn represents Energy Transfer, the pipeline company behind the Dakota Access Pipeline, Bayou Bridge Pipeline, and the Permian Pipeline.
Indigenous resistance cost Kelsey Warren's Energy Transfer $7.5 Billion during the Standing Rock protests against the Dakota Access Pipeline. Tribal nations hold 2% of all land but their total value of tribal fossil fuel resources is around $1.5 trillion
As with any culture or nation, the future ceases to exist if children are prevented from carrying on the languages, traditions, and knowledge passed down from previous generations. Despite great obstacles, Indigenous peoples are still here reclaiming all that was stolen and forcibly removed from our hearts.
"ICWA is tool of assimilation and a means to continue the genocides that has been wielded against tribal nations and Indigenous children repeatedly throughout history. Residential schools did not end, they just evolved into child protective services. This is case is about weakening tribal sovereignty to give big oil greater access to tribal lands. This impacts not just Native communities but everyone who will suffer from climate chaos. Gibson Dunn should expect Indigenous resistance," said Ikiya Collective.
"They want to strip ICWA like they stripped us of our clothing when our ancestors were forced into their residential boarding schools. Now they want to do this to our mothers who are working so hard through their traumas from being raped in the state foster farms. Shame on you, America!" said Erica with Indigenous Earth Protectors.
Indian Child Welfare Act and Energy Transfer Timelines:
1978: ICWA is passed to ensure Native communities are kept intact to preserve cultural ways
October 2014: Indigenous-led DAPL protests start
April 2016: Sacred Stone Camp begins at Standing Rock to stand in the way of the Dakota Access Pipeline
February 2017: Standing Rock Protests end
October 2017: Energy Transfer's legal representative Gibson Dunn file the Brackeens' federal lawsuit in the federal District Court in Fort Worth pro bono.