Native Americans Arrested While Protesting Tar Sands Through Tribal Lands

Written by Annie-Rose Strasser

Hundreds of Native American protesters and environmentalists created a human barrier on Tuesday, meant to block shipments of oil extraction equipment on its way through tribal lands to the tar sands in Alberta, Canada. Police cleared passage for the trucks by arresting 20 protesters.

The Nez Perce Tribe owns the land in northern Idaho through which the 255-foot long, 644,000 pound “megaload” of two water purification units passed. It is “a federally designated Wild and Scenic River corridor,” which means that the government has pledged to maintain its wildness and conserve the undeveloped shorelines there.

But the Nez Perce fear that the pristine area will be marred by increasing shipments of dirty energy equipment up to the tar sands, leading to “the conversion of this wild and scenic area into a high and wide industrial corridor,” and effectively making its protected status moot.

Native Tribes are already often bearing the brunt of dirty energy practices. A massive spill in the Alberta tar sands in June killed every plant and tree that it touched in the wetlands where members of the Dene Tha First Nation hunt and trap. During the BP oil spill in 2010, oil overtook the marshes in the Bayou where the 700-person Pointe Aux Chenes tribe was living. Alaska natives fear the increased oil drilling there, too, and what a major spill might do to their land.

And when tribes’ lands aren’t threatened by dirty energy production, they still see their way of life threatened by coastal erosion and droughts.

This post was originally published at ClimateProgress.

Photo from Thinkstock

171 comments

Elizabeth M.
Elizabeth M.about a year ago

I stand with the Nez Perce Tribe, and hope they can stop this heavy equipment coming through there land. Native Tribes are already often bearing the brunt of dirty energy practices. A massive spill in the Alberta tar sands in June killed every plant and tree that it touched in the wetlands where members of the Dene Tha First Nation hunt and trap.
Thank You for posting this article, as we all need to be aware of the rights of First Nations.

K H.
K H.2 years ago

There's a group in Canada called Idle No More that is dedicated to non-violently getting better rights and living conditions for indigenous people in Canada. They seem to be very active on Facebook and anyone interested may want to look at their website, I live too far away to help them but I admire what they are trying to do to help people.

Barbra Raymond
Barbra Raymond2 years ago

Not sure how this can happen on tribal land. This is bull!!

Mark D.
Mark D.2 years ago

This is terrorism shipped to the world from Harper's psychotic government.

Carrie-Anne Brown

sad news but thanks for sharing

Ruhee B.
Ruhee B.2 years ago

What can we do to stop this? Shame on the people allowing this!

Marilyn Traver
Marilyn Traver2 years ago

Hasn't the white man (government) done enough harm to Native Americans and their land????

Brian F.
Brian F.2 years ago

It wasn't enough for the white man to steal the indian's land, now they have to ram through dirty fossil fuel polluting industries into the few remaining hunting areas the native Americans have. The white man needs to learn how to respect the land, and our environment, and stop destroying it, for profit, and avarice.

Ernest Roth
Ernest R.2 years ago

@ PM "The Native Americans wouldn't have been arrested if they were black, hispanic or muslim". Of course. The Native Americans are the only group unaffected by political correctness. They can't be secure even on the little plots of their land still allowed to them.[only until other groups have found a use for it]. It is as bad in Canada as in the US and the rest of the Western Hemisphere. Polluting industries locate there and if even a foreign corporation wants to take the trees, minerals, water,or earth, they go ahead and do it with government permission, and even , in Canada, with government financial aid. Really disgusting.

Sheyla Ventura
Sheyla V.2 years ago

Continuous colonization and exploitation... corruption and abuse. A sad reality that has not yet changed.