Native Lands back in Native hands, we are not your sacrifice zone
As the sun rises an autonomous Indigenous-led delegation of Black, Indigenous, people of the global majority and their allies have shut down the streets surrounding the Department of Interior Washington D.C using tipi poles and painting CLIMATE EMERGENCY on the street in front of the building.
This action comes on the heels of a previous occupation of the building in October where 55 Indigenous leaders occupied the building.
The group is demanding President Biden declare a climate emergency and to put Native lands back in Native hands-- stop approving fossil fuel projects, including leases, exports, plastic plants, and pipelines. Permitting new fossil fuel projects will further entrench us in a fossil fuel economy for decades to come — and encourage the continued violence and genocide the fossil fuel industry brings to Black, Indigenous and communities of the global majority.
Two provisions buried in the Inflation Reduction Act would require massive oil and gas leasing in the Gulf of Mexico and Alaska, reinstate an illegal 2021 Gulf lease sale and mandate that millions more acres of public lands be offered for leasing before any new solar or wind energy projects could be built on public lands or waters.
As Indigenous peoples we know the devastation our communities are facing from climate chaos is linked directly to the fossil fuel industry and the violence they commit upon our land, they commit upon our bodies, we refuse to continue to be your sacrifice zones.
This summer, Alaska is experiencing fires on a scale it’s never seen; more than 530 wildfires have burned an area the size of Connecticut. Allowing new leases in the Arctic will be devasting for Indigenous tribes already suffering from land loss as sea levels rise, Average annual temperatures in Alaska are projected to rise by an additional 2°F to 4°F by 2050.
In New Mexico, fires have been affecting Indigenous communities such as the Cochiti and Jemez Pueblos, which have been impacted by the state's most destructive fire known as the Calf Canyon - Hermits Peak Fire. The U.S. Forest Service (USFS) prescribed fires using outdated burn models to reduce fire risk and without meaningful consultation or the Indigenous knowledge of the land. the US Governement burned 432 residences and over 530 square miles (1373 square km) of forests and meadows. This mismanagement of the land, as well as conditions intensified by the climate crisis caused the prescribed burns to turn into the largest recorded fire in the state's history. Now, many communities in Northern New Mexico are faced with severe burn scar flooding.
Factors of the climate crisis do not end there. Near the Four Corners Region exists the Greater Chaco Landscape, a central and significant place to the Pueblo Nations in New Mexico. Chaco Canyon, a UNESCO World Heritage site, is an extension of Pueblo people's present cultural integrity, lifeways and spirituality. Yet, over 91% of available public lands in the Greater Chaco region have already been leased for oil and gas extraction, causing harm to the cultural resources that exist there as well as public health issues for surrounding Diné communities. It is no surprise that fossil fuel extraction is a recurring reality on the ancestral lands of the Pueblo, Diné, and Apache peoples in New Mexico. However, Indigenous communities will not accept being subordinated into sacrifice zones, nor accept the commodification or desecration of land, water, and air. Meaningful tribal consultation must be centered, including Free, Prior and Informed Consent (FPIC).
In asserting our sovereignty, Indigenous nations everywhere will stand up against false solutions and pivot our communities towards a future where no false solutions exist.
Statement from the group:
We refuse to be complicit in the demise of our communities through co2colonialism. We know violence to the land results in violence to Indigenous bodies. Our people are dying from climate chaos already and with them our culture, our plant knowledge, our language, our sacred ways.
We are not victims of the United States when we fight for our sovereignty and self-determination. We will not sit by silently as we have our lives devalued by white supremacy, while we are stripped of our sovereignty.
Our struggle to abolish white supremacy and it's systems that are killing us recognizes the political importance of accountability and refuses to embrace the rhetoric of victimhood, even as we vigilantly keep fighting to bring attention to the continued genocide and oppression of our people.
We are inseparable from nature. We are older than the United States, older than western imperialism, older than colonization.
And still the United States, this extractive and exploitative system, does everything it can to sever our connection to Mother Earth, lying to steal our sovereignty and strip us of our self-determination.
Politicians don’t care about us, presidents don’t take care of us, these systems were created to destroy us.
But we will fight until the natural balance is restored.
For generations, they’ve arrested us, tear gassed us, poisoned us…
But they cannot stop us.
We will continue to fight so that our young will thrive.
Protecting the sacred is our Indigenous responsibility, passed down generation after generation. We are the prayers of our ancestors…
We are the actions of those who walked before us…
Another world is possible.