Tom Poor Bear is one of the leaders of the Oglala Sioux Tribe of South Dakota. Recently, at an Obama speech in Denver, he interrupted the proceedings to tell the President to block the Keystone XL pipeline and respect the Earth.
The seven billion dollar pipeline from Canada through over 1,700 miles of American land would transport an enormous amount of oil daily to refineries in the United States. It is likely there will be some oil spills from the pipeline and its construction will undoubtedly have some impact upon the land. Mr. Poor Bear said,
“We ask all indigenous people to join us in our plight to oppose the TransCanada Keystone XL pipeline. We feel that Obama, in his position as President of the United States, should look at this issue very seriously because he also purports to represent us as indigenous peoples. So we are asking all indigenous peoples and Treaty Nations, as well as all other peoples who also respect our Mother, the Earth, to join our opposition and s top the TransCanada Keystone XL pipeline. Through a unified effort, we will accomplish this task. As our great leader of our ancestral days, Crazy Horse, once said: ‘ You cannot sell the land your people are buried on. I believe today he would say: You cannot desecrate the land your people are buried on.” (Source: narconews.com)
The Secret Service told Tom Poor Bear and his group to leave the area where the speech was taking place, so they did peacefully.
It is important to note Poor Bear is defending the environment even though it is a tough economic period the country is experiencing, and unemployment is much, much higher in native american communities–as he knows well, and yet his commitment to the environment is still intact.
In tough economic times politicians start talking incessantly about jobs, because they know doing so will help them get votes; not because they have had a true long-term dedication to helping people.
How likely is it the Keystone XL Pipeline will be allowed with politicians saying it will be a ‘job creator’? If the fact British Petroleum could be drilling in the Gulf again soon is relevant, it appears the Keystone pipeline will be constructed and start transporting oil, and the environment will take a backseat to Big Oil, with the help of the federal government, once again.
Below is a video of Tom Poor Bear explaining some of his life history and work.
Beth Steinhauer, Black Hills National Forest
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