Mother Earth Beats Big Oil

Session #2: Keystone XL Pipeline
Date: May 4, 2021

Key Topics: strategic alliances; environment; Native spirituality and organizing worldview ; prospects under a Biden administration; big oil

Presenter: Judith Le Blanc is a citizen of the Caddo Tribe of Oklahoma and director of the Native Organizers Alliance (NOA), a national Native training and organizing network.

The experience of the Nisqually nation in Washington state in fighting for their fishing rights in the 1970s presaged what was to come more than 4 decades later in the effort to stop the construction of the Dakota Access Pipe Line (DAPL). Their determination to engage in centuries-old practices to fish and protect the Nisqually river came under intense assault from the state government and private capital. But they prevailed after a determined fight. In 1974, the Courts granted fish management rights to Native folks and ordered state law enforcement to cease their harassment.

On January 20, 2021 President Biden halted the construction of the Keystone XL pipeline after many years of campaigning from Native folks and their allies. Through a combination of direct action, legal and legislative strategies, electoral and mutual aid efforts–inside/outside, upside/down–the new administration acceded to the campaign’s demands.

But as Judith Le Blanc warns:

“The Biden Administration stopped the KXL pipeline on Day One as promised. But we know it’s a zombie pipeline. We know that unless there are structural changes, unless there are clear-cut policy changes, it’s not enough …but it creates the conditions on the ground to continue to create political movements.”

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