Cop City is a proposed $90 million, 300-acre police training compound backed by the Atlanta Police Foundation. It will be the largest police training facility in the US, to include a mock city where police will train with firearms, tear gas, helicopters, and explosive devices to repress protest and mass arrest.
This is exactly the opposite of what those of us in the abolition (of police and prisons) movement are working for. All the more concerning because Cop City would be used to train police from all over the country. Imagine your local police going to Cop City and returning with all this knowledge about militarized policing and repressing dissent. (See: https://quakersandreligioussocialism.com/abolition/ )
It’s impossible for me to not see the connections of the police killings of Manuel Teran, Tyre Nichols, George Floyd, and hundreds of others.
A coalition of more than 1,300 climate and racial justice groups from across the United States on Monday joined a call for an independent investigation into the police killing of forest defender Manuel Paez Terán earlier this month, and demanded the resignation of Atlanta Mayor Andre Dickens.
The groups noted that Dickens and the Atlanta City Council have the authority to terminate the land lease for Cop City in the forest and called for the mayor to do so immediately, denouncing his strong support for the Atlanta Police Foundation’s proposal.
Ikiya Collective, a signatory of the letter, noted that the training slated to take place at Cop City “will impact organizing across the country” as police are trained to respond to popular uprisings.
“This is a national issue,” said the collective. “Climate justice and police brutality are interconnected, which is why we are joining the Stop Cop City calls to action with the frontline communities in Atlanta.”
I attended a vigil for Tortuguita in Chicago the day after they were killed by police. One of the signs posted beside candles and other tributes included words taken from an interview Tortuguita gave to writer David Peisner. This is what they said of the movement to Stop Cop City:
If enough people decide to do this with nonviolent action, you can overwhelm the infrastructure [of the state]. That’s something they fear more than violence in the streets. Because violence in the streets, they’ll win. They have the guns for it. We don’t.
NLG National joins our Atlanta and University of Georgia Chapters and comrades in mourning the devastating loss of a beloved community member. Tortuguita was a kind, passionate, and caring activist, who coordinated mutual aid and served as a trained medic. The Atlanta Community Press Collective is compiling memories and accounts of their life, and we encourage everyone to honor and remember Tortuguita through the words of those who love them.
As radical movement legal activists, NLG recognizes that this horrific murder and the related arrests are part of a nationwide attack on protesters, land defenders, and marginalized folks, especially Black, Indigenous, and other activists of color. Labeling these demonstrators “domestic terrorists” is a harrowing repetition of No DAPL activist Jessica Reznicek’s terrorist enhancement last year, and both are clear indicators that the people in power view protesters and environmental activists as enemies of the state.
As mentioned in the National Lawyers Guild (NLG) statement above, domestic terrorism charges are being brought to stifle nonviolent civil disobedience as part of a nationwide attack on protesters, land defenders, and marginalized folks, especially Black, Indigenous, and other activists of color.
A PANEL OF three Trump-appointed judges this week upheld an excessive eight-year prison sentence handed down to climate activist Jessica Reznicek, ruling that a terrorism enhancement attached to her sentence was “harmless.”
The terror enhancement, which dramatically increased Reznicek’s sentence from its original recommended range, set a troubling precedent. Decided by a lower court in 2021, it contends that Reznicek’s acts against private property were “calculated to influence or affect the conduct of government.” The appellate justices’ decision to uphold her sentence, callously dismissing the challenge to her terrorism enhancement, doubles down on a chilling message: Those who take direct action against rapacious energy corporations can be treated as enemies of the state.
As her legal battles continue, Reznicek, whose acts of sabotage place her firmly on the right side of history, if not the law, deserves full-throated public support. As she noted in her 2017 statement claiming responsibility for the actions against the Dakota Access pipeline: “We acted from our hearts and never threatened human life nor personal property. What we did do was fight a private corporation that has run rampant across our country seizing land and polluting our nation’s water supply.”
The proposed location for the facility is the Old Atlanta Prison Farm, and opponents of the facility particularly object to this location because of its history and because destruction of the forest conflicts with their concerns about environmental justice, and attempts to preserve the land as an urban park and conservation area.
This is a continuation of news and reflections about the first killing of an environmental activist in this country. Manuel “Tortuguita” Terán was killed in Atlanta on January 21, 2023. Other stories I’ve written about this are listed in this table. This troubles me because I am an environmental activist, as are many of my friends. I don’t like to think of us as targets of extreme police brutality. Or charged as “domestic terrorists”.
Many stories tell of Tortuguita’s advocacy for nonviolence. Which makes it seem unlikely that they shot at police. But that is what the police are saying.
WASHINGTON – On January 21, 2023, Atlanta Forest Defender Manuel “Tortuguita” Terán was shot and killed by Atlanta police. Terán, an environmental activist, was peacefully protesting the clearing of South River Forest land near Atlanta, where the state plans to build a new military-grade training facility. In recent weeks police have conducted multiple raids on environmental activists camping in the forest, which was identified as a key area for mitigating climate change impacts in Atlanta.
Terán’s killing sets a dangerous precedent for environmental activism in the U.S., while over the last decade, thousands of environmental defenders around the globe have been and continue to be murdered, imprisoned or arrested for defending the planet.
Erich Pica, President of Friends of the Earth U.S., said this:
Friends of the Earth U.S. expresses our solidarity with those outraged and in mourning at the police killing of Manuel “Tortuguita” Terán, while protecting the South River Forest from logging and exploitation. His killing is a domestic example of the increasing threat of death faced by environmental defenders across the globe, while protecting their communities from companies and governments seeking to log, mine, dam rivers or extract fossil fuels.
Police brutality and the militarization of the police force is just one of the many violent and unconscionable attempts to crush those fighting to protect our planet. Indigenous Peoples, local communities and environmental defenders are the planet’s greatest caretakers and advocates. Friends of the Earth U.S. stands against the brutal treatment of these heroes around the globe.
Do you know about the appalling frequency of the killing of environmental protesters globally? And the accelerating trend of new laws defining fossil fuel infrastructure as “critical infrastructure” to justify charges of terrorism against even nonviolent protestors?
Monday 13 September, 2021 – A report released today reveals that 227 land and environmental activists were murdered in 2020 for defending their land and the planet. That constitutes the highest number ever recorded for a second consecutive year.
Since 2016, 13 states have quietly enacted laws that increase criminal penalties for trespassing, damage, and interference with infrastructure sites such as oil refineries and pipelines. At least five more states have already introduced similar legislation this year. These laws draw from national security legislation enacted after 9/11 to protect physical infrastructure considered so “vital” that the “incapacity or destruction of such systems and assets would have a debilitating impact on security, national economic security, national public health or safety.”
Many industry sectors are designated critical infrastructure, including food and agriculture, energy, water and wastewater, and communications, but most state critical infrastructure laws focus more narrowly on oil and gas pipelines. While protecting critical infrastructure is a legitimate government function, these laws clearly target environmental and Indigenous activists by significantly raising the penalties for participating in or even tangentially supporting pipeline trespassing and property damage, crimes that are already illegal. Many laws are modelled on draft legislation prepared by the American Legislative Exchange Council, also known as ALEC, a powerful lobbying group funded by fossil fuel companies like ExxonMobil and Shell.
Following are stories about the killing of forest defender Manuel Teran “Tortuguita”. It is still not clear what led to his murder.
The snowballing militarization of police in the U.S. has coincided with a heightened criminalization of protests. Both efforts share the generous backing of corporatefunders. If both phenomena continue to proceed apace, it’s easy to imagine more protesters may soon, like Terán, be hurt or killed.
Police killings of environmental defenders are much more common in other countries with major extractive industries, including Brazil, Honduras, and Nigeria; research released last year from Global Witness has found that an environmental defender was killed every 2 days over the last decade. While Terán’s shooting is the first known police killing of a forest defender in the U.S., a drumbeat of recent bills have increasingly depicted those protesting major development projects as public enemy number one. If the post-9/11 security state has a mantra, it’s that it’s easier to get away with killing someone if you can call them a terrorist. And the South Woods Forest case seems, tragically, to illustrate that principle: Seven of the forest defenders swept up in last week’s raid have now been charged with domestic terrorism, on top of the six Stop Cop City activists charged with domestic terrorism and a host of other felony and misdemeanor charges last month.
Atlanta Police Kill Forest Defender at Protest Encampment Near Proposed “Cop City” Training Center. Democracy NOW! https://youtu.be/8dXn-LVXfII
We get an update on calls for an independent investigation into the Atlanta police killing of an activist during a violent raid Wednesday on a proposed $90 million training facility in a public forest, known by opponents to the facility as “Cop City.” Law enforcement officers — including a SWAT team — were violently evicting protesters who had occupied a wooded area outside the center when they shot and killed longtime activist Manuel Teran, who went by the name “Tortuguita.” Police claim they were fired on, though protesters dispute this account. We hear a statement from an Atlanta forest defender about what happened, and speak with Kamau Franklin, an anti-“Cop City” activist and the founder of the Atlanta organization Community Movement Builders.
This incident — the potential murder by cop of an environmental activist — would be unprecedented on U.S. soil, but it’s undeniably emblematic of the times. With great sadness, I recall the heavily militarized police force and hired private army deployed to confront us at Standing Rock during the NoDAPL movement. And I remember all too well being labeled a terrorist in response to my stand on behalf of our Grandmother Earth. But peaceful, legal dissent — whether it be on the front lines of a pipeline fight or in an Atlanta forest — must be protected! That’s the foundation of a healthy democracy, and we have to push back on this shameful activist-as-terrorist narrative at every turn.
On that note, I want to take a moment to say thank you. You may recall that, last congressional session, Lakota Law created a blog and action alert after the U.S. House of Representatives passed H.R. 1374. Had the bill passed the Senate and been signed off on by the White House, this hideous law would, for all intents and purposes, have given law enforcement carte blanche to kill water protestors under the guise of protecting “infrastructure” (read: pipelines). But thanks in part to more than 33,000 of you who sent messages of dissent to your senators, the law died in the Senate.
Wopila tanka — thank you for your willingness to take a stand!
Chase Iron Eyes, Dakota Peoples Law
This video, “Love Letters to God” by Nahko and Medicine for the People, filmed at Standing Rock, vividly displays the actions of the militarized police against unarmed people peaceably assembling and praying.
Nahko and Medicine for the People. Love Letters to God.
I’ve written about a new report from the Oakland Institute titled The Great Carbon Boondoggle, which focuses on the resistance to Summit’s CO2 (carbon) pipeline here in the Midwest. Summit is one of three proposed CO2 pipelines, so far, to be built in the Midwest. (See: Oakland Institute Report)
Notice how the proposed pipeline route travels past so many Native American reservations. A different pipeline, the Dakota Access pipeline was moved from passing near Bismarck, North Dakota, when the (primarily White) people there raised concerns about contamination of their water. Instead, the pipeline was constructed on the edge of the Standing Rock reservation. These pipeline routes are just one example of environmental racism.
The report opens with a statement from my friend, Sikowis Nobiss.
We’ve been attending meetings of the Iowa Utilities Board, which will make the decision about approving the carbon pipelines. Following is a video of the presentations made yesterday to argue against approval of the pipelines.
Then we met at the Iowa State Capitol, where the legislature is in session.
Photos: Jeff Kisling
Why Is Carbon Capture & Storage A False Climate Solution?
The promoters of the Midwest Carbon Express fail to reckon with the growing body of evidence exposing CCS as a false climate solution. CCS projects have systematically overpromised and underdelivered. Despite billions of taxpayer dollars spent on CCS to date, the technology has failed to significantly reduce CO2 emissions, as it has “not been proven feasible or economic at scale.” 
Crucially, the ability to capture and safely contain CO2 permanently underground has not been proven, a dangerous uncertainty given CO2 must be stored underground for thousands of years without leaking to effectively reduce emissions. 
It also risks permanently contaminating underground aquifers and poisoning precious drinking water for nearby communities.
Additionally, applying CCS to industrial sources such as ethanol plants requires the creation of massive infrastructure and transportation of carbon to storage sites, and injecting it underground poses new environmental, health, and safety hazards in communities targeted for CCS infrastructure. As carbon capture infrastructure needs to be built near emitting sites, facilities would further impact those already burdened by industrial pollution. 
In many cases, this disproportionately impacts lower-income,Indigenous, Black, and Brown communities—furthering a vicious cycle of environmental racism. To date, CCS has primarily been used to prop up the ineffective and environmentally unsustainable fossil fuel energy system. In the US, a dozen carbon capture plants are in operation—the majority of which are attached to ethanol, natural gas processing, or fertilizer plants—which generate emissions that are high in CO2.  Over 95 percent of the CO2 captured by these plants is currently used for enhanced oil recovery (EOR)—where instead of storing the captured CO2, it is injected into depleted underground oil reservoirs to boost oil production in wells.
There are legitimate concerns that investing billions in carbon capture infrastructure to lower emissions from fossil fuels and ethanol production will reduce incentives for investors and policymakers to transition towards more sustainable and effective solutions. These include investing in wind or solar energy sources, phasing out of industrial agricultural production, developing infrastructure and services such as public transport. 
It is disturbing that the Biden Administration is strongly supporting Carbon Capture and Storage.
The Biden administration has hailed CCS and carbon pipelines as vital infrastructure to meet climate targets and claimed that the US needs 65,000 additional miles of pipeline by 2050.  The Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act signed in November 2021 provides over eight billion dollars as federal grants, loans, and loan guarantees for carbon storage and pipelines. In 2022, President Biden signed the Inflation Reduction Act (IRA), which substantially increased the already abundant tax credits for CCS projects and made it easier for projects to qualify for these credits. This flood of public money has resulted in over 40 CCS projects announced in 2021 alone.  In Midwestern US, Archer-Daniel Midlands (ADM), Summit Carbon Solutions, and Navigator CO2 Ventures are currently advancing three major CCS projects. The Great Carbon Boondoggle
I’ve written about this atrocity a number of times. There are stories such as this that should only be told by those the story is about. The title page of the video described below says “this film was created in line with Native healing practices.”
Today is a day that is always remembered in Indian Country. On the day after Christmas some 160 years ago, the largest single-day mass execution in the United States occurred in Mankato, Minnesota. It is often referred to as the “Dakota 38+2” for the 38 Dakota warriors and two others who were hanged in Mankato.
As journalists, part of our job is to “write the first draft of history” with stories about what is happening among Native Americans in contemporary times. But we also feel that there are several times each year where we should be remembering the historic events that brought us here today. That is why we are sharing this story in a standalone newsletter with you on this somber day of remembrance. Because history needs to be told so it is not forgotten.
The amazing video about this history, Dakota 38, is based on the vision of Jim Miller, a Native spiritual leader. “This film was created in line with Native healing practices. In honoring this ceremony, we are screening and distributing “Dakota 38″ as a gift rather than for sale. This film was inspired by one individual’s dream and is not promoting any organization or affiliated with any political or religious groups. It was simply created to encourage healing and reconciliation.” Smooth Feather
Composers Jay McKay and Jay Parrotta spent three years fusing sound and visuals into a cinematic experience that takes the viewer onto the Northern Plains and through a relentless pounding blizzard. Sound has the ability to transport, and the mix of chants, drums and melody is spellbinding.
In the spring of 2005, Jim Miller, a Native spiritual leader and Vietnam veteran, found himself in a dream riding on horseback across the great plains of South Dakota. Just before he awoke, he arrived at a riverbank in Minnesota and saw 38 of his Dakota ancestors hanged. At the time, Jim knew nothing of the largest mass execution in United States history, ordered by Abraham Lincoln on December 26, 1862. “When you have dreams, you know when they come from the creator… As any recovered alcoholic, I made believe that I didn’t get it. I tried to put it out of my mind, yet it’s one of those dreams that bothers you night and day.”
Now, four years later, embracing the message of the dream, Jim and a group of riders retrace the 330-mile route of his dream on horseback from Lower Brule, South Dakota to Mankato, Minnesota to arrive at the hanging site on the anniversary of the execution. “We can’t blame the wasichus anymore. We’re doing it to ourselves. We’re selling drugs. We’re killing our own people. That’s what this ride is about, is healing.” This is the story of their journey- the blizzards they endure, the Native and Non-Native communities that house and feed them along the way, and the dark history they are beginning to wipe away.
This film was created in line with Native healing practices. In honoring this ceremony, we are screening and distributing “Dakota 38″ as a gift rather than for sale. This film was inspired by one individual’s dream and is not promoting any organization or affiliated with any political or religious groups. It was simply created to encourage healing and reconciliation.
The day after Christmas, Dec. 26, 1862, President Abraham Lincoln ordered the largest execution in United States history — the hanging of 38 Dakota men. At the heart of this is the genocide and land theft of the tribal nations by the white settler-colonialists. #LANDBACK
“Today, all the people of the region continue to be affected by this traumatic event. We take the youth on the ride, so that they may connect with their culture in a more physical way. By being apart of the ride they are connecting themselves with their ancestors and their horse relatives. It is through the ride that they are able to see the beauty in the history and their culture.” SUNKTANKA
The Dakota 38 Plus 2 Memorial Ride is a ride that honors the 38 Dakota men who were hung in Mankato in December of 1862. The ride began from the vision of a Dakota elder and warrior. In this vision riders would ride from Crow Creek, SD to Mankato, MN. Ever since then the ride has continued to happen annually from the beginning year December 2005 to present collecting supporters and new riders along the way.
My name is Winona Goodthunder. My Dakota name is Wambde Ho Waste Win, Eagle Woman with a Good Voice. I have ridden in this ride since 2006, the second year. I was in eighth grade when I started. As the years have gone by the riders that we’ve met every year have become a part of a new kind of family. We are all different even though we are all somehow related. Those of us who are from the Lower Sioux region are used to different types of living than those who come from Canada, Nebraska, South Dakota, and other parts of the world. The differences that we have are forgotten when we come to this ride. We get up early in the morning to get our horses ready together. We ride all day together, and we eat together at night. It is then that our differences merge and we teach each other. The thing that seems to bind us the most is the fact that we can laugh. Humor may not be what is expected on a memorial ride, but it is encouraged for it is stressed that this ride is for forgiveness.
Although our group goes only for the last four days it is enough to establish that sense of family amongst each other. It is from these riders that I’ve learned most about my culture. I have read books, but they cannot foster the feeling that one gets when they are living in an experience such as the ride.
I have watched this video, “Dakota 38”, many times. My friend and roommate from Scattergood Friends School, Lee Tesdell, teaches in Mankato, and has spoken about this history with me.
The photography and especially the story, are just excellent and very moving. I’ve been learning how trauma is passed from generation to generation. The events shown in the film “Dakota 38” occurred in 1862.
“Today, all the people of the region continue to be affected by this traumatic event.” SUNKTANKA
Forgive Everyone Everything
FORGIVE EVERYONE EVERYTHING is inscribed on a bench in Reconciliation Park, Mankato, Minnesota, where the ride ends. The photo of the memorial shows a list of the names of the 38 Dakota men who were all hanged at the same time in what is now Mankato, Minnesota. A raised wooden platform, with 38 nooses along the sides, was constructed. It is said nearly 4,000 people witnessed this, the largest execution in U.S. history, on December 26, 1862.
As to who needs to be forgiven, there are many answers to that.
At the heart of this is the genocide and land theft of the tribal nations by the white settler-colonialists.
More specifically this history came about as the Dakota were forced into smaller and smaller areas of land, to the point they could not sustain themselves.
NAMES OF THE EXECUTED INDIANS
#1 was to be TA-TAY-ME-MA but he was reprieved because of his age and questions related to his innocence
Plan-doo-ta, (Red Otter.)
Wy-a-tah-ta-wa, (His People.)
Hin-hau-shoon-ko-yag-ma-ne, (One who walks clothed in an Owl’s Tail.)
Ma-za-bom-doo, (Iron Blower.)
Wak-pa-doo-ta, (Red Leaf.)
Sua-ma-ne, (Tinkling Walker.)
Ta-tay-me-ma, (Round Wind) — respited.
Rda-in-yan-ka, (Rattling Runner.)
Doo-wau-sa, (The Singer.)
Ha-pau, (Second child of a son.)
Shoon-ka-ska, (White Dog.)
Toon-kau-e-cha-tag-ma-ne, (One who walks by his Grandfather.)
E-tay-doo-tay, (Red Face.)
Am-da-cha, (Broken to Pieces.)
Hay-pe-pau, (Third child of a son.)
Mah-pe-o-ke-na-jui, (Who stands on the Clouds.)
Harry Milord, (Half Breed.)
Chas-kay-dau, (First born of a son.)
Baptiste Campbell, _.
Ta-ta-ka-gay, (Wind Maker.)
Hay-pin-kpa, (The Tips of the Horn.)
Hypolite Auge, (Half-breed.)
Ka-pay-shue, (One who does not Flee.)
Wa-kau-tau-ka, (Great Spirit.)
Toon-kau-ko-yag-e-na-jui, (One who stands clothed with his Grandfather.)
Wa-ka-ta-e-na-jui, (One who stands on the earth.)
Pa-za-koo-tay-ma-ne, (One who walks prepared to shoot.)
NOTE: I am truly blessed to have many Indigenous friends, many who are involved in the Great Plains Action Society (GPAS), including the founder Sikowis Nobiss. As a White person I’ve tried hard to learn how to appropriately engage with my friends. I’ve made mistakes. I’ve written a lot about my experiences, hoping other White people might benefit. (See:http://bit.ly/3FIx6yd)
This is a continuation of a series of posts related to The Great Carbon Boondoggle report about proposed carbon pipelines in the Midwest, and the resistance to them.
The first paragraph of the following section of the report highlights the environmental racism common to pipeline projects in this country. The original route of the Dakota Access pipeline was changed after the people of Bismarck, North Dakota raised concerns about the impact on their drinking water. The new route was near the Standing Rock Reservation.
Environmental racism is one of the reasons Des Moines Black Liberation Collective is part of the Buffalo Rebellion. (See:bit.ly/3PL3G79)
INDIGENOUS COMMUNITIES RISE TO RESIST THE PIPELINE
The proposed route for Summit’s pipeline will pass near several Native American reservations and cities with high Indigenous populations across the Midwest. This has sparked massive resistance from frontline communities, all too familiar with the devastation these projects bring. While the landowners’ opposition has garnered most of the media coverage, Indigenous groups are firmly against the pipeline. Great Plains Action Society (GPAS), a non-profit advocating for Indigenous communities throughout the Midwest, opposes the Midwest Carbon Express, stating it “only serves the interests of the fossil fuel industry.” GPAS is working alongside area tribes, including the Ho-chunk (Winnebago) and Umonhon (Omaha) Nations, to mobilize against the project.
On June 2, 2022, the Winnebago Tribe of Nebraska — which has reservations in Dakota County, Nebraska, and Woodbury County, Iowa — requested that the Iowa Utilities Board (IUB), the US Army Corps of Engineers and the two counties, conduct independent environmental impact studies of the pipeline. The request was filed given Summit’s proposed pipeline route comes near their land and the Missouri River. On October 6, 2022, the IUB denied the request, stating, “IUB will consider specific environmental issues raised by the IUB and the parties in the Summit Carbon docket as part of the public evidentiary hearing and in consideration of whether to grant Summit Carbon a hazardous liquid pipeline permit.”  The decision follows the precedent set by the IUB in 2015 during approval for the Dakota Access Pipeline, where the regulatory body found “no explicit legal requirement, in statute or in rules, for an independent environmental impact report as a part of the permit proceeding.” 
The IUB’s rejection of an independent environmental impact study on the project has heightened fears of the devastation that would occur in the event of a pipeline rupture. According to the Iowa Chapter of Physicians for Social Responsibility, in the case of a rupture, “extremely cold liquid CO2 forms a cloud that settles on the ground and displaces oxygen — potentially sickening or killing people and animals for miles around and rendering internal combustion engines inoperable.”  In February 2020, a carbon pipeline in Yazoo County, Mississippi, exploded and immediately impacted residents of the nearby small town of Sartia. Just minutes after the explosion, people passed out up to three quarters of a mile away from the pipeline. “I thought I was gonna die,” said Linda Garrett, a Sartia resident.  The explosion led to 45 people being hospitalized and the evacuation of 300 residents. Following the rupture, the Yazoo County Emergency Management Agency Director, who oversaw the response effort, warned, “We got lucky…If the wind blew the other way, if it’d been later when people were sleeping, we would have had deaths.” 
For some Winnebago tribe members, the question is not if the pipeline will rupture but when. “Pipelines break all the time as you are putting manmade material against Mother Nature, something we cannot control.”  A rupture could be catastrophic, especially if it occurred near tribal lands with limited response resources. “I like to think we are resourceful on the reservation but when the pipeline breaks, how are we going to be able to get people the help that they need? We don’t have the capacity as first responders and emergency personnel to protect our people in that situation.”  Given the lack of experience dealing with large-scale carbon pipeline ruptures, even larger urban areas are currently unprepared, as they lack the necessary special equipment and emergency response training.  With majority of the Indigenous people living outside the reservation land and in nearby cities that will be near the proposed pipeline route, they too will be in danger in case of a rupture. Sikowis Nobiss, Executive Director for GPAS, also noted the danger a rupture will pose to farmworkers, “There are areas with large groups of migrant workers and it is doubtful they be given the necessary protective equipment in case of a pipeline rupture. So far, nobody is talking to them about this project and their communities are unaware of the dangers.”
Indigenous communities have also raised concerns with the project degrading the land and disturbing sacred ceremonial and burial sites. 
Indigenous communities, rightfully, are also sounding the alarm on the impact an influx of transient pipeline construction workers will have. In the past “man-camps” — built for out of state workers for large construction, fossil fuel, or natural resource extraction projects — have led to increased risk of violence towards Indigenous communities.  The former UN Special Rapporteur on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples, James Anaya, corroborated, “Indigenous women have reported that the influx of workers into Indigenous communities as a result of extractive projects also led to increased incidents of sexual harassment and violence, including rape and assault.” 
Calling for a “reduction and phasing out of fossil fuels as a wider part of a just transition,” GPAS challenges CCS projects like the Midwest Carbon Express for delaying necessary action. Sikowis Nobiss, Executive Director for GPAS, has called for necessary investments to restore prairie across Iowa and the Midwest. “The colonial capitalist model sees our prairie land as ‘empty trash’ when in fact restoring it would control erosion and sequester lots of carbon — solving many of the biggest issues caused by Big Ag.”  Indigenous communities have experience resisting past pipeline projects and are building from it in resisting Summit. “Carbon pipelines are nothing new to us. Standing Rock educated us on how to build power within our own communities — but not only that — it taught us how to build that resistance against the pipeline route,” said Etringer.  Mobilization of Indigenous communities against the project stems from a commitment to protect the land despite historical injustices. Sikowis Nobiss explained what is driving these efforts: “We continue to put aside the historical trauma we face to help protect stolen land… this hurts your head and your heart, but we continue to support this work.” 
Great Plains Action Society is firmly opposed to proposed carbon capture and sequestration or storage (CCS) projects (aka, CO2 Pipelines) such as Summit’s Midwest Carbon Express, Navigator’s Heartland Greenway, and Wolf Carbon Solutions’ ADM pipelines. The reasons for our opposition are numerous, however, our greatest concern is that CCS only serves the interests of the fossil fuel industry and that the government will sanction further land theft and harm to communities on Indigenous territories. Carbon capture and sequestration is by design a way to prolong the usage of fossil fuels while reducing CO2 emissions. Amidst this climate emergency, we must demand a reduction and phase out fossil fuels as a wider part of a just transition.
We are also concerned about intense water usage as drought and warmer temperatures are greatly affecting access to clean water. Fossil fuel companies have known that their products were contributing to climate change for over forty years and now they see CCS as a government bail-out with many governmental subsidies providing just the type of perverse incentive for CCS operators to manipulate the system. Additionally, there are the same concerns present with other pipeline projects in the area regarding degradation of the land, disturbance of sacred ceremonial and burial sites. CO2 pipelines are also dangerous because when they rupture, they can spread over 1300 ft in under 4 min making it impossible to breathe and for vehicles to drive. First responders are not at all prepared to deal with such a catastrophe and many have been pushing back C02 pipelines for this reason alone. Furthermore, Indigenous communities will inevitably face encroachment on to treaty land, including environmentally racist moves on behalf of individual states to make sure that CCS does not negatively affect wealthy, white communities with influential power.
CCS is greenwashing rather than a solution to the climate emergency that Iowans deserve, as Indigenous people, we remain committed to the water, the land, and the future generations of Iowans.
Publisher: The Oakland Institute is an independent policy think tank bringing fresh ideas and bold action to the most pressing social, economic, and environmental issues. This work is licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License (CC BY-NC 4.0). You are free to share, copy, distribute, and transmit this work under the following conditions: Attribution: You must attribute the work to the Oakland Institute and its authors. Non-Commercial: You may not use this work for commercial purposes.
ACKNOWLEDGEMENTS This report was authored by Andy Currier, Eve Devillers, and Frédéric Mousseau and draws from the previous Oakland Institute publication: The Midwest Carbon Express: A False Solution to the Climate Crisis. Special thanks to the landowners and Indigenous community members who shared their experiences. Several remain anonymous to protect their identities
Sadly, but importantly, white settler colonists such as me, at least those paying attention, are learning a great deal about the genocide of native peoples, in large part facilitated by the institutions of forced assimilation. Sometimes referred to as Indian boarding or residential schools, though school is a misnomer, an example of whitewashing. The remains of thousands of native children are being located on the grounds of these institutions in this country and Canada.
The following was written by my friend Sikowis Nobiss.
There are many settler colonial mythologies about Native Americans. These widely held but false beliefs are rooted in deeply entrenched discriminatory attitudes and behaviors that are perpetuated by institutionalized racism. One of the most celebrated mythologies is the holiday of Thanksgiving, which is believed, since 1621, to be a mutually sanctioned gathering of “Indians” and Pilgrims. The truth is far from the mythos of popular imagination. The real story is one where settler vigilantes unyieldingly pushed themselves into Native American homelands, and forced an uneasy gathering upon the locals.
In the words of Wamsutta Frank James, Wampanoag, “the Pilgrims had hardly explored the shores of Cape Cod four days before they had robbed the graves of my ancestors, and stolen their corn, wheat, and beans.” These words came from his 1970 Thanksgiving Day speech, which he wrote for the annual celebration of the landing of the Pilgrims held every year in Plymouth, Massachusetts. However, this speech was never presented; the organizers of the celebration reportedly asked to see his speech ahead of time, according to James’ obituary in theBoston Globe, and allegedly asked him to rewrite it on the basis that his words were not aligned with the popular mythology. He instead declared Thanksgiving a National Day of Mourning.
“The following resources are available so that folks can learn more about Indigenous perspectives on Thanksgiving, the land they live on, how to be a good ally, and how they can decolonize their minds in order to abolish personal and institutionalized white supremacy.” https://www.truthsgiving.org/resources
[My foundational stories are related to the intersections between my Quaker faith, protecting Mother Earth, and photography. My faith led me to try to share my spiritual experiences and show my love for the beauty of Mother Earth through photography.]
Having finally written about where things stand now, I’ve been led to see the process doesn’t end there.
As mentioned, photography is one part of my foundational stories. Photography is usually a Spiritual exercise for me. Something that soothes my spirit. And a way to share beauty with others. I’m about to go out into the pouring rain this morning. I like to capture raindrops on plants. Not so much getting cold and wet, but that’s part of it.
There are so many things to discuss and do about where to go from here. What follows is just one example of something that can be done now. Doing is the significant part.
Only the Creator knows what’s next. Faith has been and continues to be where I seek guidance. What role does faith play in the lives of others? How do we make Spiritual connections, build Spiritual communities?
What (more) can we do to acknowledge past and/or current injustices? What are we called to do about these injustices?
Mother Earth is severely damaged and the many, severe consequences are increasingly widespread and catastrophic.
We cannot achieve a sustainable and just society unless we change to
Simpler lifestyles, much less production and consumption, much less concern with luxury, affluence, possessions and wealth.
Small, highly self-sufficient local economies, largely independent of the global economy.
More cooperative and participatory ways, enabling people in small communities to take control of their own development.
A new economy, one that has no growth, is not driven by profit or market forces, produces much less than the present economy, and is provides sufficient for satisfactory lifestyles for all.
Some very different values, especially frugality, self-sufficiency, giving, sharing and cooperating, and the rejection of acquisitiveness and competition.
The Simpler Way: Working for transition from consumer society to a simpler, more cooperative, just and ecologically sustainable society. https://thesimplerway.info/
Most of the world is overwhelmed by so many pressing problems. Rather than working on solutions, there seems to be a global malaise. My experience and Spiritual guidance have been to focus on a specific problem. One thing you can actually do.
As an example, I’ve been led to support the Wet’suwet’en peoples’ call for international acts of solidarity on February 5th as they continue their years long work to stop the construction of the Coastal GasLink pipeline through their pristine lands. Armed Royal Canadian Mounted Police have provided protection for the construction, and much of the pipeline is complete. There is great urgency now because drilling under the river has begun.
[My foundational stories are related to the intersections between my Quaker faith, protecting Mother Earth, and photography. My faith led me to try to share my spiritual experiences and show my love for the beauty of Mother Earth through photography.]
I’ve been praying and struggling for many days to discern how to express the state of my Quaker faith today. Quakerism is the faith community I was born into and have remained in. I was raised in a White Quaker family and community. I had a Spiritual experience at the Bear Creek Meetinghouse when I was about ten years old, an experience that I have drawn upon for the rest of my life. I attended Scattergood Friends School, a Quaker high school, and Earlham College, a Quaker institution.
One of the reasons I accepted the challenge of reflecting on my foundational stories is because of my crisis of faith now.
I think it is common for people to be disappointed by their faith community at various times, for a variety of reasons. That has been true for me. Coming of age during the Vietnam War I wished more young men had resisted the draft. I wish we all had done more to reign in the use of fossil fuels. And that White people like myself had worked, harder to acknowledge our complicity in the oppression of Black, Indigenous, and other people of color (BIPOC), of various gender identities, and certain social and economic classes. I wish we were working harder now on acknowledging and trying to heal these injustices.
This country was built on the historical injustices of the institution of slavery, and the genocide and removal of Indigenous peoples from their lands. And the forced assimilation of native children in institutions where they were often physically and sexually abused, where thousands of children were killed or died.
Many people, including Quakers today question how complicit our ancestors were in these injustices. There were White Quakers who were involved in the slave trade, and who enslaved Black men, women, and children. Our ancestors were settler colonists. As are we who are now living on these lands. Quakers were involved in the Indian residential schools.
These issues often generate significant emotional responses. I don’t have all the answers. But I have had spiritual and community experiences that I am led to speak and work from today. Many of these experiences have led me to understand we are living in a country, a society of structural racism and white superiority. As much as many of us White Quakers wish it weren’t so, our skin color automatically gives us many significant advantages in this country.
Our mainstream social, economic, and political systems are predicated on White superiority and dominance. I say mainstream because many people, including myself, are building alternative systems today. I’ve been deeply involved in Mutual Aid for a couple of years and believe this to be part of the answer. Mutual Aid is included in the following graphics.
NOTE: White supremacy is different from white superiority. “White supremacy or white supremacism is the belief that white people are superior to those of other races and thus should dominate them.”
I’ve also seen in the lives of my friends what I once thought of as isolated historical traumas have been passed from generation to generation. They profoundly affect the lives of people today. What does that mean for White Quakers now?
“…capitalism and colonialism created structures that have disrupted how people have historically connected with each other and shared everything they needed to survive. As people were forced into systems of wage labor and private property, and wealth became increasingly concentrated, our ways of caring for each other have become more and more tenuous.”
Dean Spade, Mutual Aid: Building Solidarity During This Crisis (and the Next) (Kindle Locations 111-121). Verso
Following is another way of looking at the relationships between White settler colonists and Indigenous peoples. White Quakers need to acknowledge that when our ancestors came to these Indigenous lands, they were settler colonists. And since we are still occupying these lands, we are settler colonists, too. Some White Quakers were involved in the forced assimilation of Indigenous children. We are implicated in most of the “negative” things listed below.
Acknowledgement of wrongs is the necessary first step in the healing process.
I’m fortunate to be part of the Buffalo Rebellion, a newly formed Green New Deal coalition in Iowa formed to protect the planet by demanding change from politicians and convincing the public that climate should be a priority. Buffalo Rebellion, is a coalition of grassroots, labor, and climate justice organizations growing a movement to pass local, state, and national policies that create millions of family-sustaining union jobs—ensuring racial and gender equity and taking action on climate at the scale and scope the crisis demands. It was formed in November 2021 and consists of:
The Friends Committee on National Legislation (FCNL) has years of experience advocating for legislation related to Native American affairs. Recently FCNL has been supporting legislation to form a Truth and Healing Commission related to the Indian Boarding Schools. I’ve been blessed to have many years of experience with FCNL and have been working with my native friends in creating connections with FCNL, including several visits to our US Senators.
Yesterday I wrote about a solidarity organizing call to support the Wet’suwet’en peoples that will occur this Wednesday, October 19, 2022. Yesterday’s post included links to the many articles I’ve written over the past several years in solidarity with the Wet’suwet’en peoples’ struggles to protect their lands from the construction of the Coastal GasLink pipeline.
But we are all suffering the injustices of the fossil fuel industry’s rape of Mother Earth.
The drilling under the Wedzwin Kwa has begun, bringing greater urgency to stop the pipeline construction. It is heartbreaking to watch Wet’suwet’en Chief Na’Moks see the gigantic pipeline hole in this video.
The struggle of the Wet’suwet’en and the solidarity actions must also be seen in the broader international context. In the past year we have seen mass movements erupt in country after country—in Hong Kong, France, Catalonia, Haiti, Chile, Bolivia, Ecuador, Lebanon, Iraq, and Iran, to mention a few. We also saw the mass climate change protests and movements that swept the world, including a large demonstration in Toronto and a truly massive one in Montreal.
For the Wet’suwet’en, other Indigenous communities, and their allies it’s not just about questions of title and pipelines, but centuries of colonialism, subjugation, and genocide, as well as decades of austerity, growing poverty and inequality, the lack of jobs, unaffordable housing, and poor pay. Enough is enough—and after people saw the recent RCMP invasion of Wet’suwet’en lands, they had had enough.
The power of the people is on display across the world. There is a renewed sense of confidence in those fighting inequality and injustice and a growing realization that we are fighting against common enemies—the capitalist class and its state. The Wet’suwet’en are at the forefront of this struggle in Canada, literally on the front lines, and this is why many people—who face the same enemies—have come out to support them and join the fight.