Opinion: On the indigenous side to Keystone XL Pipeline

Amanda Paniagua is a graduate art history major. Contact her at [email protected]

Amanda Paniagua

President Barack Obama’s commitment to veto any Congressional legislation that would grant access to build the Keystone XL Pipeline has some people in an uproar. While the hollow phrasing of “bipartisan” sounds seductive enough when it comes to Congress, the Keystone XL Pipeline is not about Republican or Democratic leanings. Rather, it is a question of whether the United States government will respect the self-determination of the indigenous people who would be directly affected by the building of such a pipeline.           

“The lack of proper consultation with tribal nations along the proposed route of the Keystone XL Pipeline violates basic tenets of U.S. Federal Indian Law and the principle of free, prior and informed consent recognized in international law,” stated activist Dallas Goldtooth in a recent Guardian op-ed.

While some argue that the pipeline would generate jobs and revenue, there are other sides like the environmental effects (and cost of such an event) should a spill happen.

“If TransCanada spills tar sand oil all over South Dakota or any other state in the United States, TransCanada wouldn’t have to pay a penny for the cleanup,” wrote Ben Davis on the Mix 97-3 website.

That’s right. It is in writing that the company poised to gain the most money from the construction of the pipeline would not be held financially responsible for any and all tar spills. That “revenue creation” is only for the exploitative company.

Profit over people? People over profit.

It’s important to realize that there are real people affected by those who strategize and speculate about the construction of an object that stands to only gain profit for those already in positions of immense financial power.

As a result, it is OK to rebel, to fight for the lands that have been handed down and are rightfully your own. This was the case with Maxima Acuna de Chaupe, a Peruvian woman who refused to give up her land after being informed that a mining company planned to “take over.” Despite the odds, her activism and commitment to the land eventually won.

I do not consider this issue to be a question of political party affiliation; my loyalty is aligned with the indigenous people always.

In the words of Dallas Goldtooth, “I urge our allies to stand with Native people, heed our call for systemic change to how we create and utilize energy and the policies that regulate both, support our right to self-determination, and join our movement to protect the territorial integrity and sacredness of Mother Earth.”

People over profit.

Contact Amanda Paniagua at [email protected]