documents Corporate America’s new drive to exploit natural resources, no matter what the impact on the environment or the rights of Native peoples.
May 16, 2013
THOUGH YOU wouldn’t know it from the mainstream media, the U.S. economy continues to suffer the aftershocks of the Great Recession of 2008. California is special case in point, where the unemployment rate hovers at 10 percent.
To resolve this crisis, money-grubbing corporations and the politicians that serve them are working together to restructure the economy and restore stronger growth by turning to resource extraction. This form of growth and development is already having a drastic impact on the environment, people’s health—and also the sovereignty and rights of Native American tribes and nations.
The consequences for working people are stark. In California, child poverty is on the rise at 23 percent, rental prices have skyrocketed, migration to the Golden State has slowed, and in a sure sign of an unfolding social crisis, some adults are deciding that having children is no longer an affordable option. The reports of a rise in suicide rates among adults shows how far the social crisis can deepen if people don’t have access to economic stability and good jobs.
In the fall of last year, Native tribes declared a state of emergency. Reports revealed Native American teens and young adults are killing themselves at more than triple the rate of other young Americans. Coming after decades of racism, continued land theft and inequality, Native Americans, as a segment at the bottom of the ladder, are being hit the hardest.
The 1 Percent, on the other hand, has managed to hoard unprecedented amounts of cash—almost $2 trillion in 2011, according to the federal Bureau of Economic Analysis. The super-rich are looking for ways to invest their money, and they can count on the U.S. government to help them with its policies.
This explains why President Obama could flip to the other direction from his pre-election speeches and take up the “Drill, baby, drill!” mantra of the right wing. The 1 Percent in this country aims to finish first in the rat race to pump out what remains of the world’s oil reserves.
Not without resistance, though. The push to complete the Keystone XL pipeline regardless of environmental damage has sparked a movement made up of environmental activists and indigenous tribes and nations, including the inspiring Idle No More movement in Canada, which rose up against Bill C-45.
C-45 aims to expand tar sands mining as well as the pipeline carrying tar sands oil from Alberta, Canada, to the Pacific coast. The end goal is selling this oil to overseas markets. C-45 is part of a long line of legislation attacking the rights of indigenous people in North America.
As an editorial at the online NetNewsLedger.com points out:
With domestic and foreign investors seeking resource wealth from the lands of Canada, First Nation sovereignty presents a massive hurdle for Canada to exploit such resources. This is precisely why the motivation exists to dismantle First Nation legal connection to treaties, sovereignty, and protected reserve lands, as it opens up lands and resources to investors.
The struggle of First Nations organizing in the Idle No More movement has parallel connections with tribes and nations in the U.S. In late March, the Oglala Sioux Tribe renewed its vow to stop XL Pipeline “from crossing the Mni Wiconi Water Line, any part of the Pine Ridge Indian Reservation and any and all 1851 and 1868 treaty lands,” it stated in a resolution.
The resolution affirmed: “The Great Sioux Nation hereby directs President Barack Obama and the United States Congress to honor the promises of the United States made through the 1851 and 1868 Fort Laramie treaties by prohibiting the proposed Keystone XL Pipeline and any future projects from entering and destroying our land without our consent.”
On the day of the vote, Oglala Sioux tribal member Debra White Plume made a call for members to engage in direct-action united with other environmental activists to stop the pipeline.