Posted: 11/30/11 12:45 PM ET
In the ongoing ﬁght to keep tarsands oil in the ground, no group has been more vocal, more consistent, and more effective than native and indigenous groups on both sides of the border.
When I think back on the year's campaign -- which has at least temporarily halted construction of the pipeline -- many of the faces I see in my mind's eye come from native communities: Melina Laboucan-Massimo in tears describing the death of family and friends from the strange cancers now common across the tarsands territory, or Gitz Crazyboy showing pictures of the wrecked landscape where he grew up. The Indigenous Environmental Network, small and underfunded, was just as key in this ﬁght as the biggest of the Washington green groups.
This Friday, tribal leaders from across the continent will meet for their third summit with the president in Washington, and one of the prime items on the agenda will be the ﬁght against the Keystone Pipeline. They'll talk about the way both the pipeline and the process of approving it have violated treaties, and they'll present the president with a copy of the Mother Earth Accord adopted in a special meeting at the Rosebud reservation a few weeks ago. It's a strong document, full of details about the impacts of tar sands mining and pipeline leaks and carbon emissions -- but it also speaks with the real power of the people who've lived longest and best on this continent. Indeed, it begins by afﬁrming that "the earth is our true mother, our grandmother who gives birth to us and maintains all life."
The next round of tarsands pipelines are slated to go west from the Alberta deposits to the Paciﬁc coast of British Columbia, there to be shipped via tanker to China.