Monday, December 5, 2016

Standing by Standing Rock

Every part of the earth is sacred to my people. Every shining pine needle, every sandy shore, every mist in the dark woods, every meadow, every humming insect. All are holy in the memory and experience of my people.
We know the sap which courses through the trees as we know the blood that courses through our veins. We are part of the earth and it is part of us. The perfumed flowers are our sisters. The bear, the deer, the great eagle, these are our brothers. The rocky crests, the dew in the meadow, the body heat of the pony, and man all belong to the same family.
The shining water that moves in the streams and rivers is not just water, but the blood of our ancestors. If we sell you our land, you must remember that it is sacred. Each glossy reflection in the clear waters of the lakes tells of events and memories in the life of my people. The water's murmur is the voice of my father's father.
The rivers are our brothers. They quench our thirst. They carry our canoes and feed our children.

- Chief Seattle of the Squamish Clan, in a letter in the 1800s to the Government of the United States of America


In any attempt to establish routes towards development, it is vital to understand the impact of a proposed policy and / or a decision and accordingly, their implementation upon different groups of people. The impact of no policy is uniform. The true hallmark of any developmental initiative is that while it trudges towards progress, it cares for the needs of all the communities involved. On an environmental tangent, development should be sustainable. Development is not Displacement. In the humanitarian space, development should be compassionate. The Dakota Access Pipeline is antithetical to the interests of the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe community..
  
Besides threatening the right to environment, clean water and resources for a comfortable livelihood, the pipeline is also exploitative of the Native American community; particularly the women who experience see heightened rates of sexual assault from men isolated for long periods of time. The deployment of armed militias in riot gears to remove protesters from the protest camps, and the unprecedented violence against protesters by these militias violates the right to assembly and association, which are guaranteed by the first amendment of the U.S. constitution, and are also fundamental human rights under the ambit of the law of the land and public international law.   
  
Per the 1851 Treaty of Traverse des Sioux and 1868 Treaty of Fort Laramie, two treaties ratified by the U.S. Senate, it remains clear that the Sioux have a right of national sovereignty over the territory.  This is augmented by the rights of indigenous people that specifically allows them a right to be consulted prior to the construction of such projects, and a right of peaceful assembly – which is a pivotal right in seeking to claim and assert their rights in the wake of any violation.
We stand with the Lakota Sioux community in rejecting the construction of the Dakota Access Pipeline. The appropriation of their land and their resources is one more in a long string of incidents that continue to violate the rights of the Native American people; a long, sordid history of broken treaties, exploitation and neglect. We appreciate that the authorities responded to what was patently a gross case of human rights violation, to end the inhumane display of police brutality and respond to the interests of a community that has historically been wronged. As global citizens, we urge people to partake in resisting the unfair oppression of rights, and to raise their voices to an issue that bears deep consequences for all of humankind.

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