Oct 27, 2016 - Northwest Tribes Demand Overhaul in Federal Consultation with Tribes

Seattle, WA- On October, 25th, Northwest tribal leaders met with members of the Obama administration to demand an overhaul in the federal governments process for consulting with Tribes on energy projects and for greater protections of sacred sites. The meeting was one of several tribal consultations brought on as a result of the on-going efforts of the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe to stop the Dakota Access pipeline.

Brian Cladoosby, President of the National Congress of American Indians speaks at consultation meeting with Obama administration. Photo by Chris Stearns

Theresa Sheldon (Tulalip Tribes) provides an overview of Tuesday’s meeting.

Regarding the Dakota Access pipeline, Northwest Tribal leaders requested:

1) DENY the easement of the pipeline to the Dakota Access Pipeline under the river.
2) REQUIRE a full EIS [Environmental Impact Statement] on this project and ALL projects around sacred places, tribal U&A’s and where treaty rights are being negatively impacted. Especially if an infrastructure project includes private lands that tribes have interest too.
3) Demand the DOJ [Department of Justice] to investigate the abuse of power the Morton County Sheriff department is displaying on the innocent protectors of our Mother Earth and the Governor of North Dakota.

We all know that the majority of administration will be replaced after this election therefore this listening session is meant for the current administration to leave a roadmap for the next officials who will carry on in 2017. The Administration is hoping they can make this an easy fix for the next administration by highlighting the following areas of focus:

1) Amend the Executive Order 13.007 to require the United States to obtain informed consent of affected Nations prior to any federal undertaking that impacts Indian sacred places, as required by Indian treaties and customary international law.
a. The federal government must consult with tribes and once they put something in writing to solve the problem, they should come back to the Tribal Nations and secure approval of their recommendations, PRIOR to putting it into action.
2) Cause the U.S Army Corps to withdraw its Appendix C, as lacking legislative and regulatory authority under Section 106 of the National Historic Preservation Act.
3) Army Corp of Engineers to prepare a Pacific Northwest region wide Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) for all fossil fuel development projects in our region, as presently allowed by NEPA.

The fact is that more often than not, Tribes are consulted after a disturbance has been made or construction has already began. Tribes must be elevated in the consultation process prior to any construction beginning especially when it has to do with fossil fuel development. This needs to be done immediately. Tribes are not against construction projects but tribes are against the desecration and destruction of our sacred places, our way of life and our Mother Earth. This is not just about today, this fight is for the next 7 generations and those we have not even thought of.

May we all look at our own selves and see what we can do better to preserve our waters and air. This is not just a Native American issue this is a human being issue. We should all be demanding that we stop the use of fossil fuels and continue to invest and engage in green energy for our homes, for our cars, and for our work places. Climate change is here and upon us. Will we stay quiet and watch our planet destruct on itself or will we become more consciously aware and do something to change it.

Standing Rock is just one example of being conscious and making a conscious decision to stop the destruction of our earth and the tens of thousands of homes that depend on the river for drinking water. You cannot drink oil or coal. Our body is made up of mostly water. Water is essential and necessary for the survival of life. Without clean and healthy water we will not survive. Please get engaged. If you cannot physically be at Standing Rock, please donate to standingrock.org. Even if it’s $20 a pay check that will make a huge difference. Please continue to call the White House at (206) 456-1111 or (202) 456-1414

Theresa Sheldon (Tulalip Tribes) is on the Tulalip Tribes Board of Directors and is the 2nd Vice President of the Affiliated Tribes of Northwest Indians

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