The Keystone XL pipeline project was dealt a nasty blow last week.
After many months of pondering what U.S. President Barack Obama would do regarding the fate of this giant oily snake, and hundreds and hundreds of demonstrations by anti-pipeline activists, threats of blockades over Indigenous-held land, it turned out that the U.S. Senate was a stumbling block that stopped the pipeline.
On November 19, 2014, the Senate blocked the bill that would have seen the pipeline continue, just shy of one vote to pass at 59-41.
This said, the U.S. House of Representatives approved the pipeline on Friday, November 14, 2014, in less than an hour.
Not that people are not joyful! A bit nervous perhaps; this was not the victory that many expected, but any time we can buy to help save Mother Earth is a good thing.
It turns out not everyone was in the mood to celebrate.
Greg Grey Cloud, of the Crow Creek Sioux Tribe, in attendance when the announcement was made of the Senate's vote, was about as happy as the rest of us when he heard the news.
What he did next was extraordinary.... extraordinary enough to get him arrested.
Greg Grey Cloud honoured them, by leading off a song. An Honour song, at that (Tip: For those of you who don't know, this is a big deal).
In this video from the floor, you can hear Grey Cloud sing, starting about halfway through the video.
Others joined in. For their efforts, the singers were thrown to the floor and arrested.
Grey Cloud who wore feathers in his hair continued to sing as he was thrown to the floor and was hauled away along with fellow singers Deirdra Shelly, (22) of Harrisburg, Pennsylvania; Kayla Lang (20) of Lynwood, Pennsylvania; Maria Langholz (22) of St. Paul, Minnesota; and Anthony Torres (20) East Islip, New York.
They were all charged with disruption of Congress, which is a misdemeanor.
I want to note here that Indigenous resistance to the Keystone XL pipeline has been fierce.
Indigenous groups such as the Indigenous Environmental Network (IEN) are against the environmental exploitation caused by the tar sands. "IEN is working to unite the Tribes in the U.S. and Canada to stand together to shut down the tar sands," explained Clayton Thomas-Muller, IEN tar sands campaign organizer. "Industry has used the divide and conquer technique on the tribes and local land owners, but we are all standing together and will fight them with every resource available."
Rosebud Sioux Tribe President Cyril Scott said his tribe recognized the vote as an act of war.
Photo by Indian Country Today
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