Last Real Indians

Real Price by Sara Jumping Eagle

Today President Obama and the State Department rejected the Keystone Pipeline.  He states that the KXL was not going to create jobs, not going to reduce the price of gas, and also not an “express lane to climate disasters”.

He stated that it had become an over-inflated political football.

I am excited today in what this rejection represents to the earth, to our water, and air.  The rejection of the KXL symbolizes a turning point in this fight for our children’s future.  While of course it is only one pipeline, shipping only one method of “dirty” fossil fuel (as if there was a “clean” fossil fuel), it is a statement that maybe someone has heard our cries for change. Someone has heard our statements that we will stand in front of those who run the corporate machines that aim to kill our futures.

Yet, within President Obama’s statement, there is still the cajoling, the soothing sound of his voice, in a way stating that everything will be ok if we simply continue to frack our way to “energy independence”.  I am concerned that in the big picture, our countries’ leaders are still discussing “jobs”, the price of gasoline, and a “transition” away from using dirty fossil fuels from unstable countries.  If the price of energy has reduced so much, then why are we still at war in those same “unstable countries”?  Beneath the façade of “everything is ok”, we are still at war, for our water, for our lands, and ways of life, and our country is still at war in lands where the underlying struggle still leads to control of energy resources.

I am concerned about the statement that a Transition towards a clean energy economy will “take some time”.

The planet’s climate change tipping point of 400 ppm global carbon ppm was met in this year, yet our leaders are still talking about a transition taking some time.

We don’t have some time. We only have some time.

Yes – our country is producing more of our own dirty fossil fuel energy- and have less reliance on fossil fuels from other countries – yet at what price?

Coal plants, refineries piping smoke into the sky at night, fracking machinery, flares lighting up the sky, crude oil pipelines under the river, radioactive frack filter socks dumped in a field, trains transport fossil fuels everyday…… Living downstream from the Bakken, gives us perspective, the same perspective of anyone living in a similar environment being threatened by industrial waste, fossil fuel industry – basically our communities have been treated as what one author termed “industrial sacrifice zones” …. This is the- same perspective of those living in chemical valley, cancer alley, the Marcellus shale… Or the Indigenous community living surrounded by refineries in the community of Sarnia, Ontario.

Although our lands and waters have not been annihilated to the same extreme as the Tarsands… as another author called the “slow industrial genocide” of the Tarsands – thus we have not reached quite the same perspective of the people living near the Tarsands…. Those living in or near the Mandan Hidatsa Arikara Nation have voiced their concerns over repeated “spills” of oil and frack-waste into the Missouri River.

The Navajo Nation has also experienced the perspective of having industry risk their very lives.  The yellow green flow of mining waste poisons into the Animas River highlighted to all people living along that river, how dependent they are on the river of life.  Yet, Native communities are often even more affected, when we have little other resources left to buy our way out, to buy other water and foods than what we obtain directly from the lands we live on.

We have always known the real value of water, the air we breathe, the land we live on…..Now those living in the path of the proposed new route of the KXL experienced what it felt like to be a little bit “Indian”, that maybe this country sees our rights as less than or when convenient, they might feel a little bit of what it feels like to be in the potential “sacrifice zone” that Indigenous people and communities continue to deal with every day. My hope is that this feeling, this realization will lead to continued change – that we cannot go back to the ignorant arrogance of before – now we know how threatened our lives are by the continued fixation with fossil fuels.

Today I heard the President of the United States say that “some of these fossil fuels will have to stay in the ground”. Yes- they will have to, for we already know the true price of gasoline and fossil fuel based economies.