Posts Tagged ‘Native American’

Dakota Pipeline – A Cautionary Tale

September 9, 2016

Native American tribes and others from all over the country have joined the Standing Rock Sioux to protest the construction of the Dakota Access Pipeline [DAPL]. The proposed pipeline would cross 4 states carrying natural gas extracted via horizontal drilling and hydraulic fracturing [aka fracking] from North Dakota Bakken Oil Fields to Illinois. The complaints focus on the traditional values of our rivers, which we shouldn’t belittle. Our rivers provide sustenance (fish and medicinal plants), clean water to drink, and a spiritual and cultural refuge.

The specific concerns about this 1,172-mile pipeline begin with DAPL’s construction methods that would violate Sioux treaty agreements and desecrate their sacred areas. Once constructed, any leakage from the 30”diameter pipe (just under 3 feet of soil mostly) would threaten contamination within a large 4-state swath of the Missouri River Basin. Ruptures or spills could contaminate agricultural areas, roads, rivers, lakes and streams.  In arid areas damage to groundwater resources would be devastating.

The Native Tribes protesting at Standing Rock are getting the most media attention on this issue – especially those on horseback. Yet they certainly aren’t the only ones who would be affected by a DALP environmental catastrophe. The global issue is that there will eventually be greenhouse gas emissions from this oil, increasing everyone’s vulnerability to global impacts of climate change – floods, droughts, increased severe weather events, and sea level rise.

The local issue is that the Dakota Access pipeline will would carry 570,000 barrels of oil per day across 50 counties of North Dakota, South Dakota, Iowa and Illinois.  It will cross under two tributaries to the Mississippi River: The Des Moines River and the Missouri River.

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Too frequently there are pipeline spills. The Riverkeepers website addresses the risks of transporting crude oil with an annotated list of recent crude oil pipeline ruptures and spills.

RECENT NOTABLE CRUDE OIL PIPELINE ruptures and spills

April 2016 Freeman SD 
A spill of 16,800 gallons of tar sand oil

May 2015  –   Santa Barbara CA
143,000 galloons of crude oil released, and 21,000 spilled into Pacific Ocean

Jan 2015  – Yellowstone River MT
Drinking water contaminated by 31,000 gals of oil spilled into frozen river

Dec 2014  Belton SC
Over 300,000 gallons of gasoline spilled

Oct. 2014 – Caddo Parisih LA
Pipeline killed wildlife as it spilled over 4,000 barrels of crude

Oct. 2013 – Smithville T
Pipeline spilled 17,000 gallons of crude oil

Sept. 2013  –   Tioga, ND
Over 20,000 barrels crude oil leaked into a wheat field

Mar. 2013 – Mayflower ARK
Rupture of 100’s of 1000’s of gallons of heavy crude into neighborhoods

Jul. 2010  – Kalamazoo River MI
Rupture oiled 40 miles of river with heavy crude bitumin

If an accident like any of the above were to occur along the DAPL, it could affect the Missouri River or any of its tributaries along the route. These streams provide a resource upon which 18 million people depend upon for clean drinking water.  A spill could also impact crops, prairie habitat and residential communities.

The fracking that produces the crude oil to be carried by DAPL releases less greenhouse gases into the atmosphere than burning coal – however, the use of natural gas puts much more CO2 into our atmosphere than other new sustainable energy sources. NWNL urges the implementation of renewable, sustainable green energy like solar panels, wind powered turbines, and wave energy.

Solving the negative impacts of this oil pipeline at this late date is problematic.  It is unfortunate that in this century business and governmental decisions are too often made without enough honest and transparent risk analysis.  We should listen more to the Native Americans protesting this pipeline who come from a heritage of analyzing impacts seven generations in the future before committing to risky ventures.

A ruling on the Sioux’s lawsuit with the Army Core of Engineers is expected to come out today. NWNL hopes it will be one small step in resolving the ongoing controversy over big oil and environmental conservation.

 

“They think we’re all gonna drown down here. But we ain’t going nowhere.” – Hushpuppy

September 9, 2014
Isle de Jean Charles

Isle de Jean Charles

NWNL is headed to the “Bathtub!” – The geographic inspiration for the movie, Beasts of the Southern Wild.” As director, Benh Zeitlin put it, “This is the edge of the world.”

Isle de Jean Charles is a sliver of marshland, deep in the bayous of Louisiana – also ground zero for climate change in the US. It is home to Native Americans that live off the land and water, a place of extraordinary biodiversity and beauty, but the Isle de Jean Charles is rapidly disappearing. The environment, history and culture of this coastal region is truly fascinating – Read more about it here.

Keep your fingers crossed that Island Rd ain’t flooded!

I’ll leave you with some Hushpuppy wisdom….

“Sometimes you can break something so bad, that it can’t get put back together.”

“The whole universe depends on everything fitting together just right. If one piece busts, even the smallest piece… the entire universe will get busted.”

“I see that I am a little piece of a big, big universe, and that makes it right.”

Crabbing on the causeway

Crabbing on the causeway

– Posted by Jasmine Graf, NWNL Associate Director

This Sunday look for the Full Sturgeon Supermoon

August 6, 2014

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This Sunday, August 10, the full Moon will appear as much as 14% closer and 30% brighter than other full Moons of the year.

Why? The August full Moon falls on the same day as perigee.

It is known as the Full Sturgeon Moon of August. Fishing tribes are given credit for the naming of this Moon, since sturgeon, a large fish of the Great Lakes and other major bodies of water, were most readily caught during this month. – Farmer’s Almanac

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“Water is a living thing that provides for us – physically and spiritually. – Jessica Koski, mining technical assistant for the Keweenaw Bay Tribe, Upper Peninsula, Michigan
[It’s more than just water at stake]

– Posted by Jasmine Graf, NWNL Associate Director

Full Wolf Moon Tonite! – HOWL!

January 15, 2014
USA:  Montana, Bozeman, "Cheyenne," rescued Grey wolf (Canis lupus)

USA: Montana, Bozeman, “Cheyenne,” rescued Grey wolf (Canis lupus)

Tonight’s full moon is known as the Full Wolf Moon. This name dates back to Native American tribes in the Northern and Eastern United States. According to the Farmer’s Almanac, “Amid the cold and deep snows of midwinter, the wolf packs howled…”

The wolf is a keystone species in our watersheds. This oft-maligned canine plays a critical role in naturally balancing water quantity in upper and lower river basins. Visiting the Greater Yellowstone Ecosystem in 2008, No Water No Life witnessed wolves protecting our water supplies and preventing downstream destruction and degradation in the Missouri-Mississippi watersheds.

The presence of wolves along riverbanks keeps heavy browsers (such as elk and moose) back in the cover of forests. But – without the wolf, riverside vegetation is quickly devoured. Without bushes, sedges and grasses, riverbanks quickly destabilize and erode. Without riverine willows, beavers can’t build dams. Without beaver dams and riverside vegetation, nature’s moderating water–retention system becomes ineffective. All these changes exacerbate the increase in floods and droughts downstream these days.

Let’s take advantage of nature’s free gift of wolves and howl with them in the full moon tonight!!!

United Nations Commemoration of the International Day of the World’s Indigenous Peoples

August 9, 2013

Today NWNL and NYC welcomes the arrival of Native Americans and Allies paddling from Albany to NYC along the Hudson River in the spirit of environmental responsibility.

The Two Row Wampum Renewal Campaign is a partnership between six Native American Haudenosaunee Nations (Mohawk, Oneida, Onondaga, Cayuga, Seneca and Tuscarora) and the Neighbors of the Onondaga Nation (NOON). After paddling for 9 days, hundreds of canoers and kayakers expect to reach Pier 96 organized in 2 rows symbolizing “two peoples traveling side-by-side down the river of life in peace and friendship.” Their march from the pier to the United Nations is part of several events in a yearlong awareness campaign on indigenous and environmental issues.

Hickory Edwards of the Onondaga Nation is leading the pack and said, “I feel really close to the water. It’s life-giving, and to be so close to water is to be close to nature.” Read more about this story.

NWNL documentation in U.S., Canadian and African watersheds has shown that today’s Indigenous Peoples continue to be passionately-committed stewards of our river basins. Read NWNL’s interview with Ray Gardener, Chief of the Chinook Nation, as he shares his wisdom on the preservation of nature and culture and taking action.

June – National Rivers Month

June 21, 2013
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Chinook Cove of the Columbia River | Ray Gardner.
Photos ©Alison M. Jones for NWNL.

In the spirit of Summer Solstice, NWNL offers below its interview with Ray Gardner, Chief of the Chinook Nation, honoring the Pacific Northwest’s Columbia River and Mother Earth. We met Ray on the 2007 NWNL Columbia River Expedition in a Chinook cove off this salmon-filled river’s estuary.

Three weeks ago NWNL completed its Upper and Middle Mississippi River Basin Expedition from Lake Itasca MN to its St Louis confluence with the Missouri River. In 1993 I documented the highest floodwaters on the Mississippi – and now, 20 years later, I’ve witnessed its 5th highest floodwaters. For eons, floods have come and gone in nature’s plan: part of a healthy pulse that flushes riverbeds and nourishes the plains. But today we see floods as a threat to cities and crops.

In our June 2013 interview with Patrick McGinnis (former US Army Corps of Engineers, now Senior Advisor on Water Resources for The Horinko Group), we discussed the problems that stem from federalized flood control and federalized flood insurance, without which farmers and other folks would abandon the floodplains. Many agencies and organizations are working together now to address these complex issues, given the absence of a national water policy.

But while waiting for solutions to evolve, let’s each of us – and our children – follow Ray Gardener’s suggestion to protect our rivers by removing our trash. Join in American Rivers 2013 National Rivers Cleanup – wherever you live.

We all live in a watershed – what’s yours?

Alison Jones, NWNL Director and Photographer

These beer cases, cigar wrappings and snack-food bags seen in last month’s Missouri River floodwaters should NOT be there. We may all be prone to unhealthy habits now and then, but let’s not allow them to create unhealthy rivers!

These beer cases, cigar wrappings and snack-food bags seen in last month’s Missouri River floodwaters should NOT be there. We may all be prone to unhealthy habits now and then, but let’s not allow them to create unhealthy rivers!

SELECTIONS: NWNL Interview with Ray Gardner, Chair of the Chinook Nation

June 2007

NWNL: Thank you, Ray, for bringing us to this protected Columbia River cove, so imbued with the spirit of the Chinook Nation. Could you describe the historic ties Chinook Nation has had with the Columbia River.

RAY GARDNER: The best way to start with that is from our story of creation. We were created on the Columbia River. The Creator and Mother Earth gave us the honor to be a people that lived on this river. This river was a means of transportation. It was a means of communicating with other tribes up and down the river in our canoes. It provided us with the salmon that Coyote taught us how to fish.

. . . .

NWNL: What practices have Native Americans traditionally followed to keep our rivers healthy?

RAY GARDNER: It’s really hard to put into words not only how important this river system was, but still is. We have always known that if the people here do not protect Mother Earth, she can’t exist. So, it’s very important to keep all elements of Mother Nature pure and safe. It’s very important to the Chinook people to preserve this river, as we were only allowed to be here by the Creator. With that came the honor of being the people to protect this part of the river. And to protect that, we had to be careful to not pollute the river. The cleanliness of the river and the purity of the river are very important because, obviously, for salmon to survive, they have to have a good water system. Even when our canoes are taken in and out of the water, they are cleansed.

. . . .

NWNL: How do Native Americans honor healthy rivers and salmon populations today?

RAY GARDNER: It’s very deeply ingrained all of the native people. Our concerns are with educating the public and with getting better practices out there. That we can help with. One of the things our people plan is river-area cleanups. Many of our people will come down to this cove, to this beach, to pick up whatever debris has been left behind. When you take that and magnify it by the length of the Columbia River, you start to get a grasp on the problem. For the tribal people, it warms our hearts to know that there are also other people out there trying to help us do what we know needs to be done.

. . . .

NWNL: How do you think we build a healthy and sustainable relationship between Mother Earth, people, industry and government?

RAY GARDNER: Change will never happen because people sit back and say nothing. People have to be willing to stand up and say this isn’t right; this is why it’s not right; and you need to change it…. In a democracy, if enough of the people want something done, it’s the government’s job to make that change. But government will not make a change unless people tell them it needs to be made.

Read the full interview.

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