Northwest tribes opposed to oil-by-rail development for fossil fuel export unite, despite differing strategies to protect their treaty rights. Ralph Schwartz reports for Yes! magazine on this conflict between indigenous governments, oil and rail corporations.
In 1975, the Tse-shaht tribe (part of the Nuu-chah-nulth first nation and the Wakashan language group on Vancouver Island) hosted the inaugural meeting of the World Council of Indigenous Peoples. That conference led to the establishment of the Center for World Indigenous Studies in Olympia, Washington in 1979, and to the UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples in 2007. As the ‘catalyst for the contemporary global indigenous rights movement’, the 1975 gathering–led by Chief George Manuel (founder of the Center for World Indigenous Studies)–was a historic event in the reemergence of indigenous governance, and in the development of the international regime first established by the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, adopted by the UN in 1948.
In addition to the fact that alternative energy does not scale to meet existing electrical demand, the components used in manufacturing solar panels are highly toxic, and become hazardous waste when these panels wear out. Meanwhile, mining and manufacture of these panels overseas is already creating environmental and social disasters for rural indigenous peoples.
Stopping fossil fuel export, as recommended by the Affiliated Tribes of Northwest Indians, would help to protect the Salish Sea, and to preserve these fuels for the future energy needs of Canadians and Americans. The real challenge for the future, however, is for industrially advanced societies to use less energy.
Conservation in heating and lighting is part of that reduction, but the major part is reducing consumption of petroleum-based products, i.e. plastic, jet fuel and gasoline.
Since the U.S. military is an enormous consumer of petroleum, curbing wars of aggression to secure access to foreign minerals used in generating so-called clean energy, i.e. gold, copper, lithium and uranium used for solar and nuclear power, would make a huge dent in the US/NATO carbon footprint.
The American way of life–that consumes vast quantities of minerals for electricity and electronics, car and jet travel at the expense of the rest of the world–demands both endless war and increasing pollution. Reducing demand is not a popular position to promote, but it is the only effective one.
Sightline examines the conflicts of interest of EnviroIssues, an oil and petrochemical industry PR firm, simultaneously doing work for government agencies overseeing oil industry development proposals.
Sightline has the story on the Malahat LNG Project, a proposed natural gas pipeline from Cherry Point to Mill Bay, Vancouver Island, that would run under Georgia Strait.
A Catalyst for Interracial Discord
By Jay Taber
In Cherry Point to March Point: Deriving an Estimate of the Situation, I observed that corporate funding for organized anti-Indian racism–promoted by Tea Party leaders in the Pacific Northwest–is augmented by the phony, corporate-sponsored, fossil-free activism, devised by public relations people working on behalf of Wall Street. The likely public backlash against this misguided activism–by the Wall Street-funded NGO 350–I argued, provides fuel for the Tea Party to elicit assistance from anti-Indian organizations like CERA, as well as to commission revenge by vigilantes like the Christian Patriot militias toward tribes opposing fossil fuel export.
The Affiliated Tribes of Northwest Indians (ATNI) have conducted themselves admirably in the fossil fuel export war. Associating themselves, in any way, with the 350 Break Free campaign could easily undo the public good will they have painstakingly built over the last few years.
In Taking on Organized Racism in the Pacific Northwest: The Challenge of Leadership, I noted that anti-Indian organizations–twenty years ago–challenged ATNI and human rights organizers to prevent bloodshed by Christian Patriot militias in the greater Seattle region. Today, with CERA and the Tea Party actively trying to recreate a climate of fear over American Indian treaty rights—that are impeding fossil fuel export plans–the potential for violence and malicious harassment can only be thwarted by the intervention of civic leaders and moral authorities. To date, that has not happened. With a few notable exceptions, the media has been no help at all.
[Jay Thomas Taber is an associate scholar of the Center for World Indigenous Studies and a contributing editor of Fourth World Journal. Since 1994, he has served as communications director at Public Good Project, a volunteer network of researchers, analysts and journalists defending democracy. As a consultant, he has assisted Indigenous peoples in the European Court of Human Rights and at the United Nations.]