Indigenous Environmental Network
On Tuesday, November 9th at approximately 11:00 a.m. GMT, the Indigenous Environmental Network, Cheyenne River Grassroots Collective, Native Movement and NDN Collective delivered a letter at the entrance of the Consulate General of the U.S. for President Biden and his administration with demands to follow through on his promise to ban federal fossil fuel leasing and drilling on public land and waters. In addition, an appeal was made for the administration to enact a ban on fossil fuel exports and urges the President to declare a climate emergency, which can grant him statutory powers to address the climate crisis.
A public reading of the demand letter occurred moments after Indigenous activists spoke in solidarity with protestors from the Gulf Coast region on the detrimental impacts that extractive oil and gas industries have on members of their families and communities. The demonstrators stood in front of the Consulate General next to a replica of a fracking tower wrapped in a giant red bow and a large banner that read: “Climate Justice = Landback; End Co2lonialism.”
Frontline activists Thomas Joseph, Ashly Hall and Joseph White Eyes approached the front door to present the letter addressed by Indigenous Peoples to the Biden administration. Officials announced via the entrance intercom that they would not acknowledge the visit since no advance notice was given in spite of the fact that the letter was submitted online a day before through the consulate’s website. Staff members exited only to observe and ask the protestors to remove the model fracking tower which was left at the entrance along with a sealed copy of the letter as a gift for the U.S. government.
This event comes after Indigenous groups have organized demonstrations during the COP26 that President Biden’s visit to COP26 this year will bear any fruit to protect public lands and mitigate the climate emergency, especially since his administration is planning to auction over 80 million acres of offshore drilling rights in the Gulf of Mexico on November 17th, just five days after the conclusion of the yearly climate conference. This does not include the 700,000 additional acres of onshore lands for oil and gas drilling that will be auctioned at a later date as reported on the U.S. Interior Department’s website.
“I, as a young person, should not be seen as a threat to the officials sitting inside this building when all we want as Indigenous peoples is to be able to have our lives respected. I am an enrolled member of the Hunkpati Oyate, also known as the Crow Creek Sioux Tribe. I am a descendant of both the Dakota and Lakota Sioux but I have grown up as well as currently live on the Fort Berthold Indian Reservation of the Mandan, Hidatsa, and Arikara Nation in the state of North Dakota. Today the 980,000-acre reservation has been at the center of exploitation for oil and gas production since 2009 as it sits on millions of gallons of oil that is tucked deep in the Bakken Shale Formation. Our tribal leaders of Fort Berthold try in good faith to work with the oil and gas companies to create alternative commerce for our tribe to achieve a higher quality of life, but we cannot continue to overlook the damages that are diminishing the quality of of our water and natural landscape.”
— Ashly Hall, Indigenous Activist of Fort Berthold Indian Reservation
“While on the international stage the United States claims global leadership in the fight against climate change, but domestically Indigenous lands are being violated and our communities are sacrificed to enrich an obsolete and poisonous industry. For the benefit of Mother Earth, Father Sky and all life, we must keep fossil fuels in the ground. We are out of time, and the power to act is in your hands. The Biden administration needs to meet this moment of global crisis and enact bans on onshore and offshore drilling leases and oil and gas exports while declaring a climate emergency in order to mobilize the resources necessary to begin mitigating the climate emergency.”
— Thomas Joseph, Hoopa Valley Tribe, Indigenous Environmental Network COP26 Delegate
“The President and his administration must do everything in their power to keep fossil fuels in the ground. We are also demanding a shut down of the DAPL and other pipelines that are being placed through tribal lands, which are in direct violation of treaties that the U.S. government signed with our Indigenous nations. The United States cannot pretend to be a leader against the climate crisis when our peoples and lands have faced the violence our government and the corporate interests it protects inflict on us. They need to honor our treaties, respect Indigenous sovereignty and listen to the knowledge that connects us to the life, land and water on Mother Earth that we fight to protect.”
— Joseph White Eyes, Indigenous Activist of the Cheyenne River Grassroots Collective
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.