Some of our partners and allies from Oaxaca, Mexico have written a letter of solidarity addressing the struggles happening here in the United States in the Sioux Nation’s territories at Standing Rock, ND. Below is the full letter. The original version of this piece appeared in Espacio Estatal en Defensa del Maíz Nativo de Oaxaca.
An Open Letter of Solidarity Among Indigenous Peoples
It is our right to conserve the territories, the cultures and the spirituality which have nourished the lives of the original peoples of the world.
In the face of the violent events taking place since September, 2016, in the territories of the Sioux Nation at Standing Rock, North Dakota, against the Hunkpapa Lakota Nation and other native peoples whose ancestors have long inhabited the banks and adjacent areas of the Missouri River in the United States of America, we, the undersigned, representatives of indigenous and campesino communities, non-governmental organizations, and independent academics of the state of Oaxaca, Mexico, manifest our opposition to the systematic violation of indigenous human rights by the violent imposition of the Dakota Access Pipeline, which affects the territory, water, and culture of the Sioux Tribe at Standing Rock.
The Dakota Access Pipeline (DAP), a project of Texas-based Energy Transfer Partners, a private enterprise, has an estimated cost of 3.78 billion dollars and an extension of 1,172 miles. It would transport approximately half a million barrels per day of fracked crude oil from the Bakken shale fields in northwest North Dakota, to a refinery near Chicago, Illinois. In an act of open racism and discrimination, the original pipeline route which passed close to the predominantly white capital city of Bismarck, N.D, was modified, due to city authorities’ fear of contamination of the city’s water supply, to a route that crosses some 15 miles of the sacred lands and burying grounds of the Sioux tribe at Standing Rock. If construction of the pipeline is not brought to a halt, it will soon tunnel under the Missouri River at Lake Oahe, the source of Standing Rock’s drinking water, downstream from Bismarck.
The affected indigenous communities have fought the pipeline through the courts, so far unsuccessfully, and, for about 8 months, by non-violent protest. During the past few months, the movement has been joined by representatives of more than 100 Native American and Canadian tribes, as well as by people from the country at large. The protesters, who call themselves “Water Protectors,” argue that the proximity of the pipeline to the Missouri River endangers drinking water and irrigation supplies not only for the inhabitants of Standing Rock, but also for millions of people who live downstream along the pipeline’s trajectory.
The implementation of the Dakota Access Pipeline Project has already led to police violence. Since late August, public and private security forces have unleashed brutal attacks against the Water Protectors, deploying trained dogs, tear gas, pepper spray, “non-lethal” rubber bullets and water cannons, this last in 20-degree temperatures. Arbitrary arrests and intimidation of detainees by strip searches and incarceration have become frequent. The indigenous tribes involved see the pipeline itself as a violation of the human rights of original peoples to protect their territories, cemeteries and sacred sites as well as their right to clean water that would possibly be contaminated by pipeline leaks.
The DAP project violates international treaties, signed by the United States, which stipulate the rights of indigenous peoples to their territories and to previous informed consent to projects that affect these territories. For the Sioux and other affected tribes, this project represents one more egregious violation of the historical treaties with the U.S. government that have been abrogated in the interest of private ventures.
We, the indigenous peoples and campesinos of Mexico are suffering the same menace from government-supported megaprojects in the form of hydroelectric dams, contamination of our native corn varieties, open pit mining projects, and wind farms, which threaten to take over our legally-held lands and natural resources.
In the face of these current political realities, we extend a call to create bonds of unity between indigenous peoples, activists, networks and movements of international solidarity among all peoples who resist this economic model and its megaprojects, with a view to guaranteeing respect for the human rights of the defenders of water and earth, and to upholding the rights of original peoples.
We manifest our categorical rejection of the violent acts of harassment and repression provoked by the imposition of the Dakota Access Pipeline.
We manifest ourselves in favor of the lives and well-being of the Native Peoples of the American continents, as well as of the rights of original peoples to conserve our water, our forests, our mountains and plains, and our spiritual relationship with the land.
We stand in solidarity with the Sioux Nation of Standing Rock in its defense of its territory, water, and cultural identity.
Pueblos, indigenous and campesino communities, social and civil organizations, and independent academics of the state of Oaxaca, Mexico
Oaxaca State Organization for the Defense of Native Maize
Espacio Estatal en Defensa del Maíz Nativo de Oaxaca (Mexico)
Organización de Agricultores Biológicos AC
Unión de Organizaciones de la Sierra Juárez UNOSJO S.C.
Servicios del Pueblo Mixe AC
Universidad de la Tierra A.C
Tequio Jurídico A.C.
Servicios para una Educación Alternativa A.C. EDUCA
Desarrollo Agroecológico Mixteco AC
Enlace, Comunicación y Capacitación A.C.
Centro de Desarrollo Integral Campesino de la Mixteca A.C. CEDICAM
Coalición de Maestros y Promotores Indígenas de Oaxaca A.C
Oaxaca Collective for the Defense of Indigenous Territories.
Colectivo Oaxaqueño en Defensa de los Territorios