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News Release

Indigenous Environmental Network

At their 77th annual convention, The National Congress of American Indians passed a sweeping resolution calling on the, “U.S. insurance industry to adopt, as part of project and general insurance underwriting policies, a requirement to obtain and document the Free, Prior, and Informed Consent of impacted tribal nations.”

Free, Prior and Informed Consent (FPIC) is a specific right that pertains to Indigenous Peoples and is recognized in the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples (UNDRIP). It allows them to give or withhold consent to a project that may affect them or their territories. Furthermore, FPIC enables them to negotiate the conditions under which the project will be designed, implemented, monitored and evaluated. This is also embedded within the universal right to self-determination.

Further, resolution PDX 20-036 calls on insurance companies to “end their underwriting of the expansion of tar sands oil, Arctic oil and gas drilling, and liquified natural gas [LNG] export terminals.”

The historic resolution calls out the impacts the fossil fuel industry has had, and continues to have, on tribal communities.

“American Indian and Alaska Native (AI/AN) peoples have an inherent responsibility to protect the lands and waters from desecration, be it from over-harvesting, natural resource or mineral extraction, or pollution or contamination. Since time immemorial, our economy, culture, religions, and ways of life have been centered around our fishing, hunting, and gathering resources, and the lands and waters upon which they depend, and we have been and remain careful and conscientious stewards over them to ensure their continued health and well-being. Fossil fuel infrastructure, particularly tar sands oil pipelines, offshore drilling, and liquefied natural gas (LNG) export terminals directly threaten some U.S. tribal treaty and land rights. The transport and export of tars sands oil, including the Trans Mountain pipeline and its expansion, threatens the health of Puget Sound salmon and orca whales by dramatically increasing the risk of a catastrophic spill for which there is no effective clean up technology.”

“We’d like to thank National Congress of American Indians for calling on the U.S. insurance industry to adopt Free, prior and informed consent (FPIC) policies with tribal nations,” said Mazaska Talks co-founder Rachel Heaton (Muckleshoot), “We are at a critical moment in time and the impact these corporations and financial institutions are having on our Mother Earth must continue to be addressed through avenues such as this. For too long our treaty rights have been violated and these institutions have built their projects without proper consent. It is of great benefit to us all for Native people to use our sovereignty to protect what belongs to our future generations.”

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“Liberty Mutual is insuring the continued genocide and epidemic of missing and murdered Indigenous women as well as the very real threat of Covid-19 to my people. I hope the shareholders and board of directors never have to look in the eyes of their daughters and educate them in how to stay safe from these man camps, hoping that she won't become a statistic because it's what I have to do.,” said Indigenous Environmental Network organizer Joye Braun (Cheyenne River Sioux)'. “They must be held accountable to the threats of Keystone XL pipeline and Trans Mountain. No corporation has the right to trample on treaty rights of Indigenous people. They must stop insuring the death, poisoning and bringing this Covid-19, the new plague to our Indigenous nations.”

"With this resolution, The National Congress of American Indians is adding its powerful voice to the movement calling on U.S. insurers like Liberty Mutual and AIG to stop insuring tar sands pipelines, Arctic drilling, and other fossil fuel projects that are being built without the consent of impacted Indigenous communities," said Elana Sulakshana, Energy Finance Campaigner at Rainforest Action Network. "The insurance industry should take note, as we will continue to pressure the companies that refuse to adopt policies on FPIC and are supporting these destructive projects."

“The insurance companies can no longer be allowed to underwrite these fossil fuel projects that not only negatively impact our climate, but are in violation of the rights of tribal nations,” said resolution principal author Matt Remle (Lakota), “Tribal leaders have spoken in a unified voice, stop underwriting the fossil fuel industry and adopt policies of Free, Prior and Informed Consent.” 

The National Congress of American Indians [NCAI], founded in 1944, is the oldest, largest and most representative American Indian and Alaska Native organization serving the broad interests of tribal governments and communities.

About Indigenous Environmental Network 

Established in 1990, the Indigenous Environmental Network is an international environmental justice nonprofit that works with tribal grassroots organizations to build the capacity of Indigenous communities. Indigenous Environmental Network’s activities include empowering Indigenous communities and tribal governments to develop mechanisms to protect our sacred sites, land, water, air, natural resources, the health of both our people and all living things, and to build economically sustainable communities.

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