Posted by on May 26, 2017 in Featured

Indigenous Divestment Delegation lead Anti-Trump March in Brussels, Press European Banks to Divest from Fossil Fuels

Indigenous Divestment Delegation lead Anti-Trump March in Brussels, Press European Banks to Divest from Fossil Fuels

On Wednesday, May 24, Rachel Heaton, Naát’áaníí Means, Waśté Win Young, and Rafael “Tufawon” Gonzales led a 6,000-person march in Brussels against Trump as he met the king, queen, and prime minister of Belgium. After the march, Rachel Heaton led the audience in a “Mni Wiconi! Water is Life!” call and response. “I am honored to stand here in front of all of you to tell you that we do not support him either. He is privatizing our tribal lands, he’s overturning our Environmental Protection Agency, he is invested in these pipelines that are desecrating our sacred lands.” Naát’áaníí Means and Rafael Gonzales shared with the audience a prayer song, followed by their own music.

Courtesy of facebook.com/StandUpForStandingRock

Courtesy of facebook.com/StandUpForStandingRock

The march followed a day of annual shareholder meetings for three separate French banks: BNP Paribas, Société Générale, and Natixis. Rachel Heaton and Naát’áaníí Means spoke to hundreds of shareholders through translators to convey the human rights and indigenous rights violations the banks have enabled at Standing Rock by financing the Energy Transfer family of companies behind the Dakota Access Pipeline (DAPL). Naát’áaníí wrote in a Facebook post, “When we stated that these banks and their investments into overseas pipelines directly affect my people and community, people began to make so much noise meant to muffle our voices while we were speaking… We were treated with unbelievable disrespect.”

Rachel and Naát’áaníí’s view at the BNP Paribas annual shareholder meeting.

Rachel Heaton warns, “these banks have not and will not listen to the indigenous communities losing their livelihoods due to their investments. We must continue to divest from them until they develop policies and due diligence practices that honor the Free, Prior, and Informed Consent of Indigenous nations and honor Mother Earth, our water, and our land.”

Top Left: Wells Fargo (Ponte Vedra Beach, FL); Top Right: J.P. Morgan Chase (Wilmington, DE); Bottom: Citibank (NYC)

These meetings in Paris mark the fourth, fifth, and sixth annual shareholder meeting indigenous divestment activists have attended to raise awareness among shareholders about the now-leaking Dakota Access Pipeline and human rights violations surrounding the resistance camps. On April 24, indigenous dancers disrupted a Citibank shareholder meeting in New York with song and dance, causing the CEO of Citibank to express regret for the bank’s financing of DAPL. The CEO also admitted they would keep their stake in the pipeline. In Florida on the same day, the San Francisco Defund DAPL coalition shamed Wells Fargo shareholders over the financing of DAPL, and were escorted out of the meeting premises by local sheriffs. In Wilmington, Delaware on May 16, the author of this article shamed the board and CEO of J.P. Morgan Chase in a speech and unfurled a banner in front of the CEO reading “#defundtarsands.”

These shareholder meeting actions come at the launch of a new, multi-national divestment campaign against the banks funding Dakota Access and four other pipelines. MazaskaTalks.org (“mazaska” is Lakota for “money”) is a centralized resource for this campaign, with detailed financial data as well as tools for taking action at the city level. The campaign targets all 61 banks that currently provide financing to Energy Transfer Partners or the three companies proposing new tar sands pipelines: TransCanada (Keystone XL and Energy East), Kinder Morgan (TransMountain Expansion), and Enbridge (Line 3 Expansion). Mazaska Talks is asking municipal-level divestment organizers to register their campaign at this link.

By Jackie Fielder

Jackie Fielder is an enrolled member of the Three Affiliated Tribes (Hidatsa), a descendant of Cheyenne River Sioux Tribe, and was born and raised in Long Beach, CA. Jackie earned her B.A. in Public Policy and M.A. in Sociology at Stanford University in 2016. She is currently an organizer with San Francisco Defund DAPL Coalition and can be reached at jackiefielder@alumni.stanford.edu.