Cowboys and Native Americans unite on the route of the Keystone XL pipeline

Cowboys and Indians

Photo illustration by Lisa Larson-Walker. Photos via Library of Congress & Wikimedia Commons.

Keystone XL pipeline

In a remarkable victory for indigenous peoples and environmental campaigners the world over, Shell has abandoned a multi-billion dollar project in the Canadian tar sands. This follows the oil giant halting drilling and withdrawing from the Arctic Ocean in the face of a huge wave of protests by Greenpeace and an alliance of Arctic residents and environmental campaigners.

On the lands of First Nation Canadian communities, the tar sands are basically a toxic sludge that is so full of carbon, it is impossible to burn. During the extraction process, forests have been flattened, hunting grounds destroyed, food sources wiped out and waters poisoned. Cancer rates have soared. The communities have suffered harassment by police (hardly Keystone Cops antics). The native peoples have been persecuted – after centuries of genocide.

The Keystone XL pipeline was designed to transport oil to the carbon-loaded U.S. markets.

Among millions opposing the tar sands drilling and the pipeline was an alliance between cattle ranchers and the indigenous Americans, who refused to allow the environment to be destroyed. They united to put their bodies down on the the very land they used to fight over and blocked the route that the Keystone XL pipeline was to snake down. They won.

TransCanada, the developer behind the rejected pipeline, has launched lawsuits against the US government in a bid to recover more than $15bn in ‘lost investment’, claiming President Obama overstepped US Constitutional authority in rejecting the controversial pipeline, that the denial was ‘arbitrary and unjustified’.

Further reading/of interest/related/environmental digest

Europeans didn’t just displace Native Americans—they enslaved them, encouraging tribes to participate in the slave trade, on a scale historians are only beginning to fathom

Selling off Apache Holy Land

Paiute tribe’s treaty rights to the Eastern Oregon forest

Public opposition to tar sands having an impact in the U – Tar sands article from 2014

Cyril Scott, President of the Rosebud Sioux Tribe in South Dakota, calls Keystone XL pipeline an ‘Act of War’

Sami people

Remembering Berta Cáceres, Assassinated Honduras Indigenous & Environmental Leader

Why BP has no place in our arts

Shell dropped as sponsor of Science Museum exhibition. Artists take over Tate Modern during Paris climate change conference

Oil giant Shell caves in to international pressure and abandons plans to dump the Brent Spar at sea: June 20th 1995


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