"How long are you going to let other people decide the future for our children? Are you not warriors? It’s time to stop talking and start doing. A long time ago when our ancestors rode into battle they didn’t know what the outcome was going to be but they did it because they knew it was in the best interest of the children and people don’t operate from a place of fear. Let us operate from a place of hope. Anything is possible but you need to take action. The movement is here the time is now.
-Thunder Valley, Oglala Lakota
Honor the Earth is engaging in a two-year program of collaborative organizing on climate change, opposition to extreme extraction and laying the groundwork for restored Indigenous economies in Native American communities. We will be working in partnership with grassroots organizations in Montana, North Dakota, Wisconsin, Michigan and Minnesota, on a media and educational campaign focused on addressing climate change, extreme mining and fossil fuels, outreach and education on tribal policy and economics and in a focused regranting program.
Time of the Seventh Fire, and Indigenous Economics
In our Anishinaabe prophecies this is called the time of the Seventh Fire. This is a time when our people will have two roads ahead of us- one miikina, or path, which is well worn, but scorched, and another path which is green. It will be our choice upon which path to embark. That is where we are. We have seen the rise of a highly inefficient American industrial society on our lands. The largest mining companies in the world began in the heart of Anishinaabe territory- the Keewenaw Bay and the Mesabe Iron range, and then traveled the world. The society which has been created is highly extractive and highly inefficient, where today material resources and water become wasted and toxic, and we waste 60% or more of the energy between point of origin and point of consumption. This highly destructive economy has reached material limits, and is now resorting to extreme extraction. Whether the removal of 500mountain tops in Appalachia (largely for foreign coal contracts), extreme mining proposals in the Great Lakes region, to Fracking and tar sands extraction, we are clearly on a scorched path.
Honor the Earth is interested in the transition from this destructive economy and way of life, back towards a land-based economics. In this land based economics, we see that intergenerational and inter-species equity are valued, that cyclical systems are reaffirmed, that not all “natural resources” are up for extraction, and that we behave responsibly. We recognize the wealth of a landbased economy because we have lived it, and, in our community on the White Earth reservation, we will continue to work to keep these waters for wild rice, these trees for maple syrup, our lakes for fish, and our land and aquifers present for all relatives.
Native people are in a pivotal position in this time. It is essential that we affirm principled and culturally-driven agency. That is to say, that tribal communities often conflicted over extraction, as a result of a historic set of decisions forced upon us, are able to be essential agents of change in this time. Honor the Earth will work in the next two years, with first nations, Indigenous communities, and tribal governments to oppose extraction, support tribal regulatory push for environmental regulation, strengthen renewable energy and food systems work in our region, and create a curriculum and learning tool for tribal youth in Indigenous Economics.
Native Peoples and Climate Change
"It seems like people don’t plan on sticking around for another thousand years….”
-Mike Wiggins, Tribal Chairman of the Bad River Ojibwe
Native people are climate change victims, and we have also been forced into being climate change perpetrators. In Alaska, the Arctic, and the Pacific, our Indigenous relatives face dire impacts of climate change. We are also facing extreme extraction of fossil fuels, in particular coal mining, hydraulic fracking, and tar sands, as well as tar sands pipelines. At the same time, almost 24% of “US coal reserves” are on Indigenous lands, and power plants on the Navajo and Crow reservation spew 60 million tons of carbon dioxide into the atmosphere annually. New mining proposals at Crow will add another l.7 billion tons of coal to world markets (in this case, the Crow and Cloud Peak are hoping for a railroad to ports in the west coast at Lummi, to ship to China), and similar proposals are underway for Northern Cheyenne.
The Navajo Nation in turn continues to extract from four operating mines and, despite new EPA regulations, is considering a further push on power plants in their territory. Fracking has expanded to the majority of the Mandan Hidatsa and Arikara nations, (Ft. Berthold) and a new pipeline for the Bakken fracked oil is proposed to go from North Dakota into Minnesota, adjacent to the Enbridge pipeline which is seeking expansion from 440,000 barrels to 800,000 barrels per day of dilbit, or tar sands oil. This is in addition to the proposed and highly contentious Keystone XL line, which, if it comes on line will add 880,000 barrels per day into the North American fossil fuel pipelines. A third pipeline,called the Sandpiper, will move fracked oil through the north country, crossing pristine watersheds, the headwaters of the Mississippi and then pour into a set of newly proposed refinery expansions , pipelines and possibly tankers in the Great Lakes region. All of this puts our water and our future generations at risk.
We understand fully the implications of these pipelines – that the tar sands oil is land locked, and that only 3% of the tar sands has been exploited. We must continue to work in our tribal communities to oppose the climate and human rights implications of these expansions. Finally, coal fired power plants in Minnesota, owned by Minnesota Power (the oldest of which is from l9l7 and all of which are over 50 years old) are seeking new coal contracts for a mine on the Northern Cheyenne reservation (Otter Creek) to be operated by Arch Coal. There is, however, no mine presently, and there is no railroad to move this coal to Minnesota. All of this is in the regulatory process, and we are hoping to influence this process with our partners at Eco-Cheyenne, the Sierra Club, and other organizations. That coal will power a new set of highly destructive mines in northern Minnesota, and as well, likely Wisconsin and Michigan, all based on this highly inefficient economic strategy. We intend to challenge this.