The concert in Neligh, Nebraska, Saturday afternoon will raise money for groups protesting the proposed Keystone XL pipeline, including Bold Nebraska, the Indigenous Environmental Network and the Cowboy & Indian Alliance.
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Governor Brown is an avid supporter of the REDD+ (Reducing Emissions from Deforestation and Forest Degradation+) that allows Northern Hemisphere polluters to buy forest carbon offset credits from the global South. Brown is trying to link an agreement among Chiapas, Mexico; Acre, Brazil; and California, to AB32, which commits to a 25% reduction of greenhouse gas emissions for 2020, and an 80% reduction for 2050).
Tom Goldtooth, Executive Director of the Indigenous Environmental Network, exposed the impact of Brown’s REDD policies on the environment and Indigenous Peoples when he spoke at a protest against Brown’s failed environmental policies in San Francisco on October 17, 2013 when Brown was slated to receive environmental leadership award by the Blue Green Alliance. Brown didn’t show up, probably because of those, including Goldtooth and Michael Preston of the Winnemem Wintu Tribe, who gathered outside to protest the event.
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“The communities that we work with have subsistence lifestyles,” Dallas Goldtooth of the Indigenous Environmental Network has point out. “They live off the land. We are the first ones affected by dirty energy, and so we are the first ones affected by climate change and the first ones first to suffer because of that.
The issue of forced migration due to extreme environmental and weather conditions is gaining traction as a political and legal concept, even if many of those forced to flee their homes chafe at the phrase “climate change refugee.”
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Dallas Goldtooth, an organizer with the Indigenous Environmental Network of Dakota and Dine heritage, said that any solution to climate change must begin with indigenous people.
“The communities that we work with have subsistence lifestyles. They live off the land. We are the first ones affected by dirty energy, and so we are the first ones affected by climate change and the first ones first to suffer because of that,” he said.
“One of the main things that we, the indigenous community, are calling for is system change, not climate change. There needs to be an entire re-evaluation of our relationship to Mother Earth. As indigenous people, we have a time-tested relationship with Mother Earth, so we are just hoping that the other world will catch on to that and reassess how it sees itself in relation to the water, the four-leggeds, the winged, all aspects of life,” Goldtooth added.
Although she marched with the Indigenous Contingency, which led the People’s Climate March, Melina Laboucan Massimo, long time Indigenous activist and tar sands campaigner for Greenpeace Canada also agreed that climate justice and gender justice go hand in hand. “People don’t realize that violence against the land is violence against women, which is an issue we have in Canada specifically with missing Indigenous women, my sister being one of them. If we continue living through patriarchal ways, colonial values both outside and inside our movements then we will never reach climate justice, which includes gender justice. There is a need to look at what equality really means — really.”
Melina explained how many Indigenous peoples have a matrilocal history of gender balance unlike what is seen in today’s patriarchal system. “With the exploitation of Mother Earth we see a disproportionate imbalance between our genders around the world and that’s why we see violence against Mother Earth and violence against women.” The expansion of tar pipelines is a result of this destructive relationship.
9/22/14 Biggest Climate March in History a Watershed Moment for Indigenous Peoples |Indian Country Today Media Network
“Today was a historic day,” said Clayton Thomas-Muller, a co-director of the Indigenous Tar Sands Campaign of the Polaris Institute and an organizer with Defenders of the Land.
It sent a strong message clearly telling President Barack Obama that “we need legally binding regulation” on pipelines and other instrusive industries. The march, he said, could “usher in a new era” of solidarity.
“Never before has there been such a demonstration on climate,” Thomas-Muller said. “It sends a strong strong message.”
Activist and comedian Dallas Goldtooth was equally inspired.
“It was most definitely empowering and monumental,” said the member of the 1491’s comedy troupe of the experience. “Amazing—very empowering to see the presence of indigenous peoples.”
He noted that one of the hopes for the march had been bridge-building, connecting different facets of the environmental movement to find their common ground. One way that that happened was that the march had room not only for big issues such as the Alberta oil sands, pipelines and fracking but also space for lesser known issues, such as mountaintop mining.
The day also demonstrated the ways in which climate justice and social justice go hand in hand, he said, adding that having indigenous peoples on the frontline, starting off the march, was key to illustrating that.
“That was vital, and had a very strong purpose to it,” Goldtooth said. “It was such a monumental experience. It hits me really deep in a good way [that everyone’s] so strong, so united in this message. I have a overall sense of gratitude.”
“It’s a necessity that whenever there’s a large mobilization of people to address issues of climate change that indigenous peoples be present in that conversation,” Dallas Goldtooth of the Indigenous Environmental Network. “We’re the ones on the front line of climate change. We’re the ones that are affected first.”
These inspiring cross-cultural alliances will continue, Camp-Horinek said, at next week’s Harvest the Hope concert to be held in Nebraska on traditional Ponca lands, headlined by Neil Young and Willie Nelson.
“We’re going to stop the Keystone XL pipeline from coming,” she said, as well as show solidarity with “the people at Ground Zero, the tar sands,” where the oil would come from in Alberta, Canada.
The groundswell fit right in with the prophecies, Camp-Horinek said, which have long predicted that Indigenous Peoples would be the ones to lead Turtle Island, and the world, out of crisis.
“It’s either this, or our children and grandchildren have no air to breath,” Camp-Horinek said. “It’s not for us, it’s for everyone. It’s not a choice.”