Thursday, September 29, 2011

Aboriginal Title, Indigenous Proprietary Title, and Nde' Inherent Rights to Lands and Territories, (cont'd)

Picking up where I left off earlier,

Consider this view, excerpted from Gordon I. Bennett, 27 Buff. L. Rev. 617 (1977-1978)
Aboriginal Title in the Common Law: A Stony Path through Feudal Doctrine, Bennett, Gordon I.
[ 20 pages, 617 to 636 ]

"In Johnson v. McIntosh ° and Worcester v. Georgia," two landmark
decisions that still constitute the locus classicus on the subject,
Chief Justice Marshall referred to the principle evolved by the European
powers in their settlement of America that "discovery gave title
to the government by whose subjects, or by whose authority, it was
made, against all other European governments, which title might be
consummated by possession."'' The Chief Justice added the vital
caveat, however, that this principle could not
annul the previous rights of those who had not agreed to it. It regulated
the right given by discovery among the European discoverers;
but could not affect the rights of those already in possession,'either
as aboriginal occupants, or as occupants by virtue of a discovery
made before the memory of man. It gave the exclusive right to purchase,
but did not found that right on a denial of the possessor to
sell.' 3 [The original inhabitants] were admitted to be the rightful occupants
of the soil, with a legal as well as a just claim to retain possession
of it, and to use it according to their own discretion.14
Central to Marshall's analysis was the assertion that aboriginal rights
stem from ancient occupation per se, and are not dependent on a public
grant or official acknowledgment."
"Nor is it true, as respondent urges, that a tribal claim to any
particular lands must be based upon a treaty, statute, or other formal
government action."

"This view is confirmed by a whole cluster of Supreme Court decisions
and, most recently, by the Court of Claims in Lipan Apache
Tribe v. United States,'8 where Judge Davis dispelled any lingering
Indian title based on aboriginal possession does not depend on sovereign
recognition or affirmative acceptance for its survival. Once
established in fact, it endures until extinguished or abandoned..."
"The correct enquiry is, not whether the Republic of Texas accorded
or granted the Indians any rights, but whether that sovereign extinguished
their pre-existing occupancy rights."

Ponder this.

Time to rest, until tomorrow...

(to be continued)

Aboriginal Title, Indigenous Proprietary Title, and Nde' Inherent Right to Self-Governance

A Underlying Issue Still Contested from Indigenous Perspectives: Neither the U.S. nor Texas Had Rights to Extinguish Aboriginal Title of Southern Lipan Apaches of South Texas & LRGV

While many indigenous peoples have contested the final decisions of the infamous Indian Claims Commission, few if any have ever set forth an analysis ourselves of the decisions, nor critiqued how these decisions effected the ongoing self-determination, survival and existence of Nde', or Southern Lipan Apaches in South Texas and in the Lower Rio Grande Valley.

Why? How and why did other indigenous peoples ('Mescaleros', et. al) ever become recognized as the sole proprietary owners of the traditional territories of Nde' of what is today South Texas, Lower Rio Grande Valley & River, and our territories in Mexico?

This is a grave harm, still to be resolved for Nde' self-determination. It is clear that our peoples, under great threat of genocidal destruction before and during the time of the Indian Claims Commission, were a vulnerable indigenous people without means to counter-act or to defend against this level of deceit and injustice.

Today, it is time to convene, and to re-assess the outcomes of the ICC, several decades later, and the work that will be entailed in launching an Aboriginal Title landmark case to prove Nde' Aboriginal Title and traditional territorial rights to Konitsaii Gokiyaa, Lipan country.

For now, here is something to absorb...

I believe it is time for a critical gathering of leadership to deconstruct the assumptions built withing the conclusions of the Indian Claims Commission, and the United States and Texas as beneficiaries, which effectively left unrecognized and peripheral all Nde' families, communities, and organizations.

Here is an excerpt of the final decision, and the full document is here:

Excerpt, 36 Ind. Cl. Comm. 7, Docket #22-C

"The Commission found the detailed reports submitted by the above experts to be informative. However, the Commission has rejected as conjectural, speculative, and not supported by the preponderance of the evidence t h e conclusions of p l a i n t i f f s ' expert witnesses as to the extent of Lipan and Mescalero aboriginal ownership of the lands claimed herein for the time periods in question. The Commission also r e j e c t s the p l a i n t i f f ' s
experts' conclusions as of the date of taking.

The defendant's expert witness was D r . Kenneth F. Neighbours, a
historian who has written extensively about the history of Texas and about i(afg Robert Neighbors, the famous Indian agent of the Texas tribehwho served in that capacity under both the Republic of Texas and the United States governments. His report, an ethnohistory of the Lipan and Mescalero Indians, and his testimony related chiefly to the land and Indian policies of the respective sovereignties that ruled Texas through the 19th century. Be
36 Ind. C l . C m . 7 65 concluded t h a t , as a r e s u l t of such p o l i c i e s , the Indians of Texas, and p a r t i c u l a r l y the Lipan and Mescalero Indians, did not have aboriginal t i t l e to any lands within the State of Texas, although a t various times these and other Indian t r i b e s had h i s t o r i c a l l y been located a t d i f f e r e n t places within t h e area. The Commission has rejected Dr. ~ e i g h b o u r s ' legal conclusions r e l a t i v e t o Indian t i t l e in the State of Texas as contrary to the law of the case.

16. Conclusion.
Based upon the foregoing findings of f a c t and a l l the evidence of
record, the Commission has concluded as follows:
(a) From time immemorial, through the periods of Spanish and Mexican sovereignty, and the Republic of Texas, and, u n t i l November 1, 1856, when, as a r e s u l t of the actions of the United States army in carrying out federal policy, it was compelled to vacate its ancestral home, the aboriginal Lipan Apache Tribe held Indian t i t l e to the following described land situated within that area i n Texas claimed by principal p l a i n t i f f herein :

Beginning a t that point on the Rio Grande River which is the
northwest corner of Zapata County; thence e a s t e r l y along the
common boundary of Zapata and Webb counties to t h e southeast corner of Webb County; thence northeasterly on a l i n e , crossing the Nueces River, to the town of Pawnee i n Bee County; thence
northwesterly on a l i n e to the northwest corner of Bandwa County; thence northwesterly on a l i n e to the northwest corner of Edwards County; thence south along the western boundary of Edwards County and adjoining Kinney County to the southwest corner of Kinney County on the Rio Grande River; thence southeasterly along the east bank of the Rio Grande River to the place of beginning.
(b) From time immemorial, through the periods of Spanish and Mexican and occupied exclusively i n Indian fashion a l a r g e a r e a i n eouth c e n t r a l 36 Ind. C1. Comm. 7 New Mexico and west Texas between the Rio Grande River and the Pecos
River. By v i r t u e of the Executive Order of May 29, 1873, e s t a b l i s h i n g the Mescalero Apache Indian Reservation i n New Mexico, the Mescalero Apache Tribe relinquished to the United S t a t e s without the payment of compensation, Indian t i t l e t o a l l lands outside of the reservation. See Mescalero Apache Tribe v. United S t a t e s , 17 Ind. C1. Comm. 100 (1966).
Accordingly, May 29, 1873, is the e f f e c t i v e date of the extinguishment of a l l Mescalero aboriginal land claims including Mescalero Indian t i t l e t o the following described area in Texas.

Beginning a t t h e southeast corner of the S t a t e of New
Mexico; thence south-southwest on a l i n e across the Pecos
River t o the southeast corner of Reeves County Texas; thence
southwest on a l i n e to Ft. Davis i n J e f f Davis County; thence
northwest on a l i n e to the town of Van Horn in Culberson County; thence northwest on a l i n e to the northeast corner El Paso County, Texas, said corner being on the southern boundary of the S t a t e of New Mexico; thence e a s t e r l y along the southern boundary of the S t a t e of New Mexico to t h e p o i n t of beginning.
(c) The evidence of record does not support Lipan and Mescalero
aboriginal t i t l e claims to lands outside of the areas awarded above.
(d) The Tonkawa Tribe of Indians, second intervenors, herein has
f a i l e d t o prove by the preponderance of the evidence t h a t s a i d t r i b e is the successor in i n t e r e s t t o the a b o r i g i n a l Lipan Apache Tribe.""

Here is another view:

from, Aboriginal Title: The Modern Jurisprudence of Tribal Land Rights, by Paul G. McHugh, (Oxford University Press, 2011), 178-179.

"In Calder, Justice Hall drew upon the American cases on extinguishment when he indicated that aboriginal title 'could not therefore be extinguished except by surrender to the Crown or by competent legislative authority, and then only be specific legislation.' His inspiration was the opinion of Davis J in Lipan Apache (1967) where it was said that in 'the absence of a "clear and plain intention" in the public records that the sovereign "intended to extinguishe all of the claimants' rights" to their property' the Indian title continued at law. That approach towards the interpretation of statutes affecting Indian title had been used in a sequence of cases from at least the early twentieth century. Ultimately, it went back to a canon for the interpretation of Indian treaties given by Chief Justice Marshall who said (1832) that treaties to 'be construed, not according to the technical meaning of their words, but in the sense in which they would naturally be understood by Indians'. As the doctrine of aboriginal title became articulated in the courts, judges routinely invoked this 'clear and plain intention' rule for the interpretation of statutes."

(to be continued)

Saturday, September 24, 2011

Margo Tamez Responds to Article, "Dozens arrested outside White House during oil sands protest," by Lee-Anne Goodman

Construction of Mega Project Bridge in Cameron County, Texas-Mexico Border, August, 2011.
Photo by Margo Tamez, Copyright Holder. May not be reproduced without permission.

Post #2: Margo Tamez, An Nde' Woman and Hada'didla-Konitsaii Nde' Clan Member of El Calaboz Rancheria Responds (Post #1 in this series)
[Note: A large portion of this piece was originally posted on August 24,, 2011 to the NAIPC/North American Indigenous Peoples' Caucus List Serve]

Ha'shi?, Greetings to all.
I wish to address the issue of the Indigenous Peoples' efforts to resist further encroachment by exploitative extraction, specifically in regards to the 'Tar Sands'/Oil Sands extractions in Indigenous Peoples' traditional territories and Indigenous Peoples' resistances to ongoing violations of human rights, and transgressions and disrespect for the fundamental and minimal standards agreed upon by member States of the United Nations, as articulated in the UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples. The aggression against Indigenous Peoples by settler governments of Alberta and Canada, and the involved corporations, not limited to TransCanada Corporation and Keystone XL, (as I will share below in my discussion about the pipeline, refinery and impacts in Texas and Nde' traditional territory) are a grave concern of Nde' peoples, chiefly chief traditional authorities, clan leaders, elected leaders, and our related Indigenous relations throughout the Texas and northeastern Mexico region. Furthermore, I am concerned about, and will address herein, the still generalized 'hints' to the impacts on Indigenous Peoples in traditional territories unceded by Indigenous Nations across the (current-day) U.S., and specifically will turn my attention to the 'receiving' refinery sites in South Texas, Lower Rio Grande Valley, and northeastern Mexico. These directly impact Nde' peoples, peoplehood, human rights, and self-determination.
I wish to weigh in on the still under-examined and under-analyzed impacts upon the Indigenous communities in (current day) South Texas and northeastern Mexico, where the Canadian, U.S., and Texas government officials, powerful dominating ruling elites--who are direct, lineal descendants of the settler society, with long-standing TEXAS-based policy-making in favor of a militarized and violent policing to repress the self-governance and recognition of Indigenous Peoples in Texas, as well as institutional organizations and certain 'citizen' groups--have been working vigilantly in support of TransCanada corporation, interest-holders (which, as of today also includes Hillary Clinton and some of her top aides along her career trajectory).

Local Contexts:
Throughout July and August, 2011, in El Calaboz Rancheria, and traditional territories of Hada'didla and Konitsaii Nde', along the Texas-Mexico border,"El Calaboz Rancheria Gathering on Indigenous Knowledge, Lands, Territories and Human Rights" witnessed and documented the construction of a mega-project the Indigenous Peoples and representatives who gathered during the infrastructure for the large-scale transportation of what we construe will be not only oil, but also other extracted elements, such as uranium, which is being targeted once again by U.S. government and corporations.

Once refined in coastal S. Texas refineries, the oil will be transported to Mexico (and no doubt the other U.S.-controlled military 'base', Columbia). All this colossal planning, financing, and implementation measures carried out by and through the abuses of power by elites, did, and continues to, occlude the the grave and concrete reality of ongoing violations of rule of law and human rights which the Keystone XL Pipeline and the Tar Sands projects have already carried out--by obscurring their real activities from the Indigenous Peoples and leadership, as well as U.S. taxpayers. These entities have been negating their duties and responsibilities to enter into meaningful consultation relative to the UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples, as well as treaties and other constructive arrangements which impact Indigenous Peoples' lands and territories unceded. The laws regarding consent of Indigenous Peoples and regarding the illegal seizure, dispossession and taking of land from Indigenous Peoples for development projects, require that States and corporations provide Indigenous Peoples' Free Prior and Informed Consent, the possibility of redress, restitution, and reparation for harms.

There is a crucial opportunity for Nde' Peoples of (current-day) South Texas and Northeastern Mexico, in bifurcated regions such as the Texas-Mexico border, to form important, and much needed dialogues and pro-active decision-making on this issue because there are severe consequences and direct impacts of the Keystone XL Pipeline megaproject that will negatively impact the self-determination, nationhood, peoplehood, and self-governance autonomy of presently living and future Nde' generations.
We Nde' are essentially being handed a spiritual, sacred, ethical and moral opportunity to move forward in Nde' Justice & Governance which is based upon the principles, protocols and perspectives of Nde' millenial systems, not by Eurocentric systems of racialization, tribalization, indigenism, and false identity.
My relatives, we Nde' are being given an opportunity to stand up in collective agreement and consensus to act by our principles of Nde' Justice, which is inherently connected to our familial and inherent relationships to Konitsaii Gokiyaa, Nde' Homelands.
Current events demand that there be an emboldened leadership, representing inclusive participation to decision-making, that emerges now in a forthright manner. Emerging leadership models, based integrally upon Nde' Knowledge Systems--not based on Eurocentrically imposed and false governance, modeled after the U.S. bankrupt and corrupt 'democratic' imprisonment systems--but, rather, based upon Nde' Knowledge, Memory, Relationships, Clans, First Foods, Sacred Ritual & Ceremonial Systems, and centrality of matrilineal and matrilocal justice and governance-- is crucial in the process of decolonizing Nde' actions towards self-determination today.

The voices and realities of Indigenous Peoples in bare existence/bare life within the 'dead-zones' of purported corrupted 'nation to nation' relations with States and corporations floods the news everyday, and yet, many Indigenous peoples' needs in our community go unanswered, ignored, denied. That is not the path toward true self-determination and self-governance.
It is time for Nde' leaders to step up and be voiced and listened to in regards to the Keystone XL Pipeline megaproject, and the conspicuous covering over of the reality of Nde' contestations with the U.S. and Texas over the traditional territory which will be exploited in this scheme. The Nde' Peoples who are the traditional land owners, will be denied any voice, agency, or means for redress need to be exposed.

The current news stories covering the Keystone XL Pipeline downplay any impacts upon over 250,000 Indigenous peoples identified in Texas legislative papers as 'Native Americans', and the hundreds of thousands of Indigenous Peoples in Texas identified by the state as 'Mexicans' or 'Latin Americans.'
These omissions have been set into stone by the uncritical voices that U.S. liberal-progressive groups' have etched onto the consciousness of the (so-called) 'American Heartland'. Making Indigenous Peoples in Texas absent is a political issue and a human rights issue. Many groups gain to benefit from maintaining this tactical omission from public view.

Indigenous leaders of the Nde' nation, it is time to come together into council, and make key decisions for the Nde' way of life for our future generations. We must articulate and specify exactly where we Nde' stand on this issue of the Tar Sands, the Keystone XL Pipeline, and other mega industrial projects, such as the border wall, the militarization of our Konitsaii Gokiyaa, and life-threatening projects such as the currently unfolding uranium yellow-cake and water dispossession/taking/extraction slated within our traditional homelands of South Texas as well.

Old Fashioned Ignorance and 'Nativism' Amidst the U.S.Tar Sands Protests?
I wish to share my perspective about how the liberal voice drowns out and occludes the realities of impacts of the Keystone XL Pipeline upon Indigenous Peoples & our lands in Texas
The liberal/progressive/anarchist forms of activisms, while important to elevating this important issue to the mainstream public, should not be the 'first' nor the 'last' voice that shapes this issue in the American mainstream because they do not have the education about Indigenous Issues necessary to educate the public about the underlying issues at stake. How the liberal-progressive activists shape and develop the representation of Indigenous Peoples and our struggles and intertwine their limited understanding of this arena of power relations will have a huge impact on how people perceive the harms committed by the Keystone Pipeline XL project. The issue of incorrect representation in the media is having and will continue to have a harmful impact on Indigenous Peoples throughout the U.S., and particularly in Texas and Mexico.
I am deeply skeptical about the selective historical amnesia of the liberal minded and spirited protesters arrested in front of the White House in late August. I have a concern about the genocidal violence and transgressions by the settler society, deep in the heart of Texas, and the fact that this obvious factoid is not being examined closely nor appearing in any media alerts produced by the organizations and groups leading the charge in a U.S. context.
While I agree that alliances, nontraditional alliances, have always been key to our long-term goals of self-governance with lands and territories, the liberal/anarchist sector in this particular arena of struggle, has not yet contributed anything critical to the public's understanding about the specificity of the Keystone XL Pipeline's exact distribution centers and refineries along the Texas coast. Texas is 'big', true, though the indigenous politics there are by no means invisible, nor difficult to locate with a minimal effort in Google.

I'm skeptical about the U.S. environmentalist focus on the dirty business of 'refining' and/or 'transporting' the oil, and how this lens completely obfuscates the underlying resistances, (centuries long) and struggles spearheaded by Indigenous Peoples across Texas, and in Konitsaii Gokiyaa, our homeland. We must look more critically at the way impacts in the U.S., by liberal-progressives focuses more on how the Pipeline project will impact their conception of U.S. territory as the domain of U.S. citizens and taxpayers, not Indigenous Peoples per se. The way in which 'rights' as articulated by liberal-progressives overshadows Indigenous Peoples interests, and focuses on the 'environment' and the limited way in which they view this as an Indigenous struggle against abusive and violent state governments, dispossession, criminalization, neocolonization, neoliberalism, and land claims contestations.

It is not any longer possible, given the prominence of Texas indigenous activism across the digital spaces, to not see that Indigenous peoples in Texas have been involved in a long-term battle and commitment to land claims, self-determination, self-governance, and autonomy in Indigenous Proprietary Title.
Yet, there is a great vagueness and unspecified, ethereal absence of groundedness surrounding the liberal-progressive activism in the 'front-line' (those arrested in Washington D.C.) of the Keystone XL Pipeline issue. The skimming over the lived realities of Indigenous Peoples on the real ground in S. Texas is a red flag.
How U.S. progressives enact their 'American' indignation and outrage about Indigenous issues embroiled in land and territorial paradigm shifts is directly tied to their cultures' historical amnesia, and in my opinion, we Indigenous Peoples cannot sustain an alliance with liberal progressives in the long run, due to an ongoing denial of genocide in Texas, the problematic negation of Nde' presence as the traditional holders of Aboriginal Title to the lands and resources in question.

I sincerely hope the liberal-progressives are learning the process of becoming meaningful and true 'allies' with, by, for, and alongside Indigenous Peoples is a lifelong journey which must be disseminated intergenerationally.

True allies in Indigenous Peoples' struggles for self-determination and autonomy are rare. It is one thing to vehemently and honorably uphold the rights of the Indigenous Peoples in Canada, and quite another to bring this concept to bear in regards to unpacking privilege, violence, and ignorance as the normed U.S. and Texas 'Indian Policy' which threatens through denying the very existence of Nde' Peoplehood, rights, and Aboriginal Title in Texas, which has everything to do with true Indigenous to Indigenous alliance building on the Keystone XL Pipeline issue. It is a much deeper relationship related to reciprocity and mutual protection of our rights as the land owners.

Sadly, what I have witnessed thus far in the media, is a vacancy and muted absence of any such leanings to true decolonization by the purported liberal-progressive 'allies' of this important anti-colonial movement spearheaded by the Indigenous Peoples.
The time has come to put the faces and places on this issue within a U.S. geopolitical, historical, and political-economic map, so to speak. We Indigenous Peoples must step up and claim this issue as ours across all our similarities and differences. We Indigenous Peoples must take responsibility to ‘locate’ the shatter-zone of impacts to our peoples, lands, and futures within precise sites where the ongoing colonialist oppression of the Tar coming home, intimately and violently.

We mustn't miss/avert the downstream specificities, or relegate this work to others who do not know, nor care to apply, the real history of colonization and ongoing genocide.

Considerations Related to the UNDRIP, Article 27, 28, 29, 30, 31, 32, 34, and 36, 37.
We cannot deny how the Security, Prosperity Trade Partnership’ and U.S. national interests and foreign policy on the U.S.-Mexico border, Mexico, and Latin America produces the conditions for the terrain of multiple and intersecting oppressions. Examine the Canada-Tar Sands to South Texas refineries to exports to Mexico, Central and South America...and Caribbean matrix.

For example:
“Going to Jail for the Environment,” The Baltimore Sun, August 22, 2011.
The other vision embraces a massive, 1,700-mile pipeline from Canada to Texas full of "tar sands oil," the dirtiest petroleum fuel. This proposed pipeline, if built, would steer our nation toward another generation of polluting automobile use.”
“Waxman dares ask if tar sands oil pipeline will benefit Koch Industries,” Daily KOS, Friday, May 27, 2011,
Koch also owns a heavy oil refinery in Texas, so it is not unreasonable to assume it will also have some stake in tar sands crude moving through the Keystone XL pipeline.”
“Most of the refined transportation fuels we are exporting is going to countries (e.g., Mexico, Canada) that have significant refinery capacity. What these countries do not have is the ability to refine heavy crude oil like that produced from tar sands. ExxonMobil, ConocoPhilips, or Koch Industries cannot sell tar sands crude to these countries, but can sell them refined products from that crude.”

“Much of those exports are shipped from the Gulf Coast refineries, particularly those in Texas.

What the Keystone XL pipeline does is bring tar sands oil to refineries in Texas. So, the question someone should be asking is whose interests are being served by the pipeline. Does it serve the energy needs of American consumers as claimed by Republicans like Fred Upton? Or does it serve to move tar sands crude from Canada to Gulf Coast refineries where petroleum products can be produced for export?

Nde' and relations, let us move together in unity, clarity, affirmation and in a forthright manner. The current construction of a mega- bridge over the Texas-Mexico border wall, (down the road from El Calaboz) is a ‘connector’ for the TransTexas Corridor (Texas to Canada) giving capacity for large freight trains... to travel over the wall, to move oil from Canada (source) to Texas (refineries) to Mexico (‘markets’). It is time for decisive action. 

Ahi'dn, thank you,
Hada'didla Nde', Konitsaii Nde'
Lipan Apache Band of Texas

South Texas Links to Keystone Pipeline and Tar Sands (Dene Traditional Territory/Alberta, Canada)

South Texas Indigenous Peoples Should Be Seriously Concerned About the Links Between the Tar Sands and Indigenous Peoples' Human Rights,
Post #1: Background Context

For Immediate Release
May 5, 2011
Marty Cobenais, Indigenous Environmental Network,, 218-760-0284
Kelly Trout, Friends of the Earth,, 202-222-0722
Major Tar Sands Oil Pipeline Spill Adds to Doubts About Controversial Keystone XL Proposal
Today, tribes and environmental organizations reiterated their call for the rejection of new of tar sands oil pipelines following a major tar sands oil pipeline spill in Alberta, Canada. Last Friday, a pipeline owned by Plains All American spilled over one million gallons of tar sands oil in the Peace Region of Northern Alberta.
The massive spill—larger even than the tar sands oil pipeline rupture that polluted Michigan’s Kalamazoo River last summer—reinforced public concerns over the growing use of tar sands oil in the U.S. and, in particular, about the controversial Keystone XL tar sands oil proposal. The Keystone XL project, proposed by Alberta-based TransCanada Pipelines, would stretch 1,700 miles from Canada across the American Midwest to Texas and is currently under review by the Obama administration.
“Pipelines are not safe,” stated Sac & Fox Principal Chief George Thurman, headquartered in Stroud, Oklahoma. “These leaks in Canada only verify our concerns with the proposed Keystone XL pipeline. We must protect the water, air, land and our significant cultural and historical sites for future generations, therefore, the Sac & Fox Business Committee stands opposed to construction of the Keystone XL pipeline.”
In the U.S., tar sands oil pipelines have come under increasing scrutiny in the last year. The proposed Keystone XL pipeline has drawn opposition from a wide range of U.S. officials, including Nebraska Senator Mike Johanns (R). Nebraska’s Ogallala Aquifer, a source of water for many of the nation’s farms, could be polluted by spills from the Keystone XL pipeline.
“These tar sands oil pipelines have been found to have serious safety risks,” said Marty Cobenais, pipeline organizer with the Indigenous Environmental Network, citing a recent report by the Pipeline Safety Trust and Natural Resources Defense Council. “This report concluded that Alberta’s pipeline system, which mostly carries tar sands oil, has had 16 times more spills from internal corrosion than the conventional crude pipelines that are in the U.S.,” Cobenais added.
A week earlier, the Trans Mountain pipeline in Alberta was shut down following a spill. A pin-sized hole in the pipeline released an unknown amount of oil into the ground and a nearby creek before being discovered by local landowners.
Last summer, a tar sands oil pipeline spilled nearly one million gallons of oil into Michigan’s Kalamazoo River, the largest oil spill in Midwest history. Nearly a year later, the impacts are still being felt and the EPA announced that a 30-mile section of the river will be closed to the public for this summer.
“Tar sands oil pipelines are simply not safe,” said Alex Moore, dirty fuels campaigner at Friends of the Earth. “The Peace Region spill once again shows the costs of our continued oil addiction. We should choose healthy children, clean water, and a strong clean energy economy over dangerous pipelines like the Keystone XL.”
The Keystone XL pipeline is currently undergoing a second round of environmental review and a public comment period is open through June 6.

Tom Goldtooth, Executive Director
Indigenous Environmental Network
PO Box485
Bemidji, MN 56619 USA
Ph: + 1 218 751 4967
Fax: + 1 218 751 0561