Representatives from over 50 indigenous communities across the U.S. and Canada signed a treaty alliance against the expansion of oilsands projects and pipelines that directly affect their communities. "Based on our sovereign, inherent right to self-determination, we have collectively decided that we will pick up our sacred responsibilities to the land, waters, and people," said Stewart Philip, Grand Chief of the Union of British Columbia Indian Chiefs, as he signed the treaty. "We will come together in unity and solidarity to protect our territory from the predations of big oil interests, industry, and everything that represents."
The document comes at a time of high visibility and controversy for the projects, most notably the Dakota Access Pipeline, which President Obama halted development of after weeks of protests. The alliance hopes to block similar projects across the continent. “We have the right and the responsibility to stop these major threats to our lands, our waters and our peoples,” said Kanesatake Grand Chief Serge Simon according to the National Observer, a Canadian outlet critically covering the oil industry. “For example, from Quebec, we will work with our First Nation allies in B.C. to make sure that the Kinder Morgan pipeline does not pass, and we know they’ll help us do the same against Energy East.”
Earlier this month, an investigation published in In These Times revealed that the Bureau of Indian Affairs, a federal American government agency that manages all reservation land for Native American tribes, coerces many Native landowners to sign over their land for development by corporations like Koch Industries—and work to ensure the deal is better for the companies, not the landowners.
Sam Stecklow is the Weekend Editor for Fusion.