Originally published in The Black Sheep Journal.
The Keystone XL pipeline struggle has created new alliances between environmental NGOs opposing the pipeline, and indigenous peoples whose lands it would cross, which the strong presence of indigenous speakers at the recent Forward on Climate rally in DC illustrated . For environmentalists Keystone represents “game over” for climate change. For indigenous peoples it is another development project imposed without Free, Prior and Informed Consent, which will not benefit their communities. For these alliances to last beyond the limelight of the Keystone fight, grassroots activists of non-native backgrounds must ground their solidarity in a commitment to supporting long-standing indigenous struggles.
My involvement began on August 31, 2011 when I joined the first major tar sands action in Washington, DC, and was arrested for taking part in non-violent civil disobedience in front of the White House, calling on President Obama to reject the Keystone XL pipeline. Despite protests, the southern leg of the pipeline is already under construction as are numerous pipeline projects in Canada, including Pacific Trails and Northern Gateway. Near where I live in New England, the Enbridge Trailbreaker is proposed to bring tar sands oil from Ontario to Portland, Maine. Even if we strike down Keystone, it is just one arm of the strategy of energy companies to transport tar sands oil and fracked natural gas to the coasts. The struggle against Keystone is quickly expanding to join with efforts against other pipelines.
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