OWE AKU BRING BACK THE WAY
PARTICIPATES IN RESISTANCE AT THE WHITE HOUSE
(September 3, 20011) Debra White Plume from Owe Aku (Bring Back the Way), a Lakota organization from the Pine Ridge Indian Reservation designed for cultural preservation and protection of Lakota treaty rights and human rights, and Kent Lebsock from Owe Aku’s International Justice Project which utilizes international strategies to preserve Lakota treaties, sovereignty and self-determination, were both arrested at the White House on Friday, September 2, 2011. They were participating in the two-week long civil resistance that occurred there in opposition to the XL Pipeline and tar sands oil mining. Organized by the Indigenous Environmental Network and their allies, the 2nd of September was designated as Indigenous Peoples’ Resistance Day. The tar sands come from Native lands and the pipeline will cross hundreds of miles of Native territory, including Lakota territory, and violate treaty rights under the Fort Laramie Treaties of 1851 and 1868 as well as human rights under the Declaration on the Rights of Indigneous Peoples.
Before the arrests, Debra White Plume addressed the large crowd that gathered in Lafayette Park across from the White House perimeter, saying:
“Our Lakota people oppose this pipeline because of the potential contamination of the surface water and of the Oglala aquifer. We have thousands of ancient and historical cultural resources that would be destroyed across our treaty lands. As a mother and a grandmother, I am related to Mother Earth and the life-giving water and it is my spiritual responsibility to be here today protecting Mother Earth from Father Greed.”
After being released from jail, Debra White Plume, along with Kandi Mossett of the Indigenous Environmental Network, met with State Department official Daniel A. Clune, Principal Deputy Assistant Secretary for Environmental and Scientific Affairs. There they urged the State Department to consult at high levels with Native leaders and to consider Section 106 (“tribal” consultations) in line with free, prior and informed consent as set forth in the Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples. Kent Lebsock stated, “What action will be taken by politicians is unknown but the two-week long demonstrations at the White House and Indigneous participation are having an effect, if not on the President, at least in building alliances in opposition to corporate greed and government abuse.”
Democratic state senator from Maryland, Paul Pinsky, also addressed those gathered in the park and stated that the non-Native environmental movement owed a great debt to Indigneous peoples who had been involved in this struggle long before anyone else. Later, Senator Pinsky was arrested along with 165 other demonstrators.
The Native American peoples gathered in front of the White House fence sang throughout the long afternoon of arrests. Differing cultural viewpoints between Native and non-Native allies were only visible when the crowd would chant, “this is what democracy looks like.” Native people were respectfully silent, pointing out that any American view of democracy has rarely served the interests of Native peoples, our lands or resources. Mrs. White Plume was the first Native woman to be arrested and the last five arrests were all of Native men including Owe Aku’s Kent Lebsock. Speaking from the Lakota homeland, Rosalie Little Thunder, also an elder. leader, mother and grandmother from Owe Aku’s International Justice Project and a long time defender of Lakota sacred sites, said of those who took part, “Today, you acquired probably hundreds if not thousands of relatives! It is a good thing to use your whole body and spirit to protect Mother Earth. Was-te ksto!”
Owe Aku Owe Aku International Justice Project
PO Box 325 720 W. 173rd St. #59
Manderson SD 57756 New York City 10032