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The Axis of Evil: Delisting, DAPL and the Keystone-XL Pipeline

Piikani Nation DAPL Declaration

“I am going to borrow a term from the colonizer’s lexicon – the Axis of Evil. The Axis of Evil for us today is DAPL, KXL, and the Delisting of the Sacred Grizzly Bear. The Missouri River is the lifeblood, the water, all stood to protect at Standing Rock. Now, with grizzly delisting, the very headwaters of the Missouri River are imperiled in Greater Yellowstone. The grizzly’s ESA status protected the headwaters, but with delisting, Trump is putting his fossil fuel backers over the health and well-being of our Mother, the Earth, and all she nourishes. We will continue to defend the sacred from the march of corporate domination.”

Chief Stan Grier – July 4, 2017: “Reclamation of Independence

On May 17, 2017 Tribes made a historic Declaration against Trump’s Keystone-XL Pipeline in the “belly of the Oil Sands beast”

On Wednesday, May 17, at the Glenbow Museum in Calgary, Alberta, leaders of the Blackfoot Confederacy and the Great Sioux Nation (Oceti Sakowin) reignited a historic union to send a message to US President Donald Trump that the stroke of his pen on an executive memo could not erase the weight of history. “We, The First People, were and remain the stewards of the land and with this Declaration renew our vow to carry that sacred obligation in defense of our Mother, the Earth, and all born of her body and nurtured at her breast who are no longer heard amidst the dissonance of industrialization and corporate domination,” reads the preamble to the historic document.

The sixteen-page “Declaration Opposing Oil Sands Expansion and the Construction of the Keystone-XL Pipeline” is described as the most comprehensive proclamation of its kind against the immense fossil-fuel sacrifice zone and pipeline that will carry its bitumen crude across sacred and environmentally fragile tribal lands. “This is a new chapter in the old story of Manifest Destiny. Greed knows no limits, and those in the way are simply collateral damage to corporate profits,” said Chairman Brandon Sazue of the Crow Creek Sioux Tribe. A leader in the Dakota Access Pipeline (DAPL) struggle, Sazue is serving his third term as chairman of the Dakota-Lakota tribe.

The Declaration details not only the physical, cultural, and environmental impacts of Oil Sands development and the proposed Keystone-XL Pipeline, but “follows the money” to Trump’s boosters and political allies in the US Congress and the president’s cabinet. In the wake of Trump’s firing of FBI Director Comey for his apparent persistence in investigating Russia-gate, Chairman Sazue recounted that connection to Keystone-XL. “Trump family friend and key Putin-backer, Russian oligarch Roman Abramovich, is set to profit from both Keystone-XL and DAPL. It is Ambramovich’s steel that will carry this toxic crude from the oil sands into our sacred lands. Former Suncor Energy CEO, Rick George, known as ‘Mr. Oil Sands,’ is linked to Putin through Petro-Canada and Gazprom. A Russian energy minister once described Putin as ‘the acting CEO of Gazprom.’ George is now a director of Anadarko Petroleum and Gas, the financier of politicians who clamored to remove protections from the sacred grizzly in Greater Yellowstone, so that the protections on those lands, and restrictions on fossil fuel operations there, could be lifted.”

Chief Stan Grier, Chief of the Piikani Nation of the Blackfoot Confederacy, and the Piikani Nation Council, initiated what is now the most signed tribal treaty in history, “The Grizzly: A Treaty of Cooperation, Cultural Revitalization and Restoration.” Some 125 Tribal Nations have signed the treaty, and after Chief Grier provided testimony to the UN on the violations of tribal rights that have taken place during the US government’s drive to remove protections from the sacred grizzly in the lower-48, UN Special Rapporteur on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples, Ms. Victoria Tauli-Corpuz, signed the treaty. “There is no separation between these issues. They are both acts of cultural genocide,” explains Chief Grier. “We ignore the warnings on continued Oil Sands development and the construction of the Keystone-XL Pipeline at our collective peril. Not without reason did NASA climate scientist Dr. James Hansen call Keystone-XL the fuse to the biggest carbon bomb on the planet,” he said.

Joining Chief Grier and Chairman Sazue in the origination of the Declaration were Chief Judy Wilson of the Union of British Columbia Indian Chiefs Executive, and Councilwoman Casey Camp-Horinek of the Ponca Nation of Oklahoma. A founder of Indigenous Women Rising, Councilwoman Camp-Horinek remains at the forefront of the struggle against the Keystone-XL Pipeline. "The Ponca Nation of Oklahoma and our sister tribe, the Ponca Tribe of Nebraska, have both passed resolutions in opposition of KXL. We will not continue to serve as sacrifice zones for the extractive industries to use and leave behind the environmental devastation for us to die in. We are determined to protect the sacred air, water, earth and all life for the generation to come.” As a delegate of the Indigenous Environmental Network (IEN), Councilwoman Camp-Horinek has addressed the UN Permanent Forum on indigenous issues.

“Our economies must change from fossil fuels to clean energy. As the caretakers of our Mother Earth we are constantly challenged with the responsibility of defending the sacred. This Declaration shows that the awakening continues, and that the solidarity between the First Peoples of this land continues to grow,” emphasized Chief Judy Wilson, Chief of the Neskonlith Indian Band in the BC Interior. “Our brothers and sisters who gathered at Standing Rock to oppose the Dakota Access Pipeline kindled the flame that continues to burn with this Declaration. This is a historic moment, the Remaking of the Sacred Hoop between the Blackfoot Confederacy and the Great Sioux Nation,” added Chief Grier.

The “Remaking the Sacred Hoop” is in remembrance of when Blackfoot and Lakota ancestors interacted following the so-called Minnesota Sioux War in 1862, and again in 1877, when after the Battle of the Little Bighorn, the Lakota-Dakota alliance with Sitting Bull came into Blackfoot Confederacy country and made a historic accord with Chief Crowfoot and Chief Sitting Besides Eagle Tail Feathers. “As Chief Grier has said, these acts of cultural and environmental genocide do not occur in isolation. Our ancestors understood this. At the Little Bighorn, they confronted the army of the Military Industrial Complex. Today we do the same, and I am honored to retrace their footsteps to the Blackfoot Confederacy. With this historic Declaration, we began Remaking that Sacred Hoop,” concluded Chairman Sazue.

The Declaration can be downloaded here

The event generated coast-to-coast media coverage. Many of the links can be found in the “Media” section of this site, but a small selection is here:

Read more about the connections:


It is very troubling to see the influence of corporate energy companies on this delisting decision. Engaging a multinational oil and gas services company, Amec Foster Wheeler, to be responsible for the peer review process of the grizzly delisting rule raises serious questions. A former Halliburton executive now runs this company, and much of the information relative to corporate energy company connections to this issue has only been revealed through the filing of Freedom of Information Act requests. Many in Indian Country see the parallels between Oak Flat, the Dakota Access Pipeline, and grizzly delisting.

Tonto Apache Tribe to USFWS Director Dan Ashe (8/26/16).

The struggle over defending the sacred Badger-Two Medicine area is related to the proposed delisting of the grizzly bear.

Sacred Yellowstone

The Piikani Nation has an ancient connection to Greater Yellowstone.

And our ancestors gave their lives to protect the sanctity of that land

Why a Congressional Investigation

has been called for

"Through information obtained via FOIA requests it is now apparent that the motivational factors behind both the delisting of the grizzly bear and the construction of the DAPL are closely aligned.”

Tipi with grizzly bear design

On October 3 in Jackson Hole, Interior’s Interagency Grizzly Bear Committee – Yellowstone Ecosystem Subcommittee is expected to approve the post-delisting regulatory document, the Conservation Strategy.

Blackfeet Indian boy

Chief Vincent Yellow Old Woman, Chief of the Siksika Nation, and others, have categorized the proposed delisting of the grizzly bear as an act of cultural genocide against our people."

Baker-Doane Massacre Site

America’s first national park should no longer have features named after the proponents and exponents of genocide, as is the case with Hayden Valley and Mount Doane.

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