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).
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 Sands…is 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.
“Going to Jail for the Environment,” The Baltimore Sun, August 22, 2011. http://articles.baltimoresun.com/2011-08-22/news/bs-ed-tar-sands-20110822_1_wind-farms-tar-sands-pipeline
“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