Energy & Environment

Standing Rock Sioux on the front lines of the climate emergency


The fight by the Standing Rock Sioux to halt the Dakota Access Pipeline has emerged as one of the defining climate justice fights in the United States.

It has also become a central focal point of the ongoing worldwide struggle by indigenous peoples to have their treaty and land rights respected by other governments and corporations. (The fact that corporations operate as de facto government is a galling example of the need for the Green Party).

Representatives of more than 280 Native American tribes have now participated in the occupation, an unprecedented gathering of indigenous peoples after centuries of war, genocide, and land theft.

Indigenous people are among the most vulnerable communities on the front lines of the climate crisis, and are leading the fight. Corporations have repeatedly used force to extract fossil fuels from their lands with approval from government attorneys and military forces. Major pipeline projects invariably cut across Native lands while bypassing white suburban communities.

We must follow the lead of indigenous communities that have protected their land for countless generations, and work together in solidarity to ensure a thriving planet for future generations and all living beings.

Ajamu Baraka, my Vice Presidential running mate, and I visited the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe’s occupation last week. We went to demonstrate Green Party solidarity with their struggle. The silence of Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump on this issue is deafening.

Our Green New Deal calls for action on the climate crisis — and a path to full employment — by transitioning to 100% clean renewable energy by 2030. That includes energy from the wind, water and sun, not natural gas or nuclear. This is why the fight to stop the Dakota Access Pipeline is so critical. And our Power to the People plan reaffirms our commitment to honoring U.S. treaties and the fundamental rights of all all indigenous people to protect their land, water, and cultural heritage.

The growing resistance resulted in the surprise decision by the Obama administration to halt part of the project last week. It is a temporary victory, but one that would not have been possible without the vision and leadership of the Standing Rock Sioux. Their courage and dignity while protecting their water and sacred burial grounds while facing vicious attack dogs and private security forces is an inspiration.

Wakíƞyaƞ Waánataƞ (Matt Remle – Lakota) provides a powerful context:

“We have seen time and time again a consistent strategy from the State in these situations: string out the process, break it to us gradually to avoid a big confrontation, present the illusion of careful thoughtful review of the case, tempt us with promises of modest reforms … but then in the end make the same decision that serves money not people.”

This reminds us that the temporary order from the Obama administration to stop work on a portion of the pipeline around Lake Oahe is not “victory.” Construction of the Dakota Access Pipeline is ongoing at multiple sites just a few miles from the area noted in the non-binding joint statement. At these construction sites, the pipeline is being laid as fast as possible, while riot police threaten peaceful defenders and undertake mass arrests.

In addition to the arrest warrants recently issued for me, Ajamu Baraka, and Democracy Now! journalist Amy Goodman, authorities and police have been persecuting earth defenders under trumped up charges and false accusations. These escalating circumstances of repression undermine our faith in the pronouncements from the Obama administration. Resistance to the pipeline must be stronger than ever, and we cannot relent. We must ensure a moratorium on the DAPL project. By President Obama’s own guidelines, issued just a week after the project was fast-tracked, the permit on the entire DAPL project should be pulled pending evaluation.

The North Dakota authorities should instead be pressing charges against the real vandalism taking place at the Standing Rock Sioux reservation: the desecration of sacred burial sites and the immoral use of vicious attack dogs. I call on our government to halt the Dakota Access Pipeline company that is endangering drinking water for the Standing Rock Sioux and millions of people downstream who depend on the Missouri River.

Ajamu and I will continue to mobilize support for immediate action on climate change and to respect Native American treaties and the rights of indigenous people. Our campaign will help publicize the ongoing calls for action to pressure state and federal officials to respect existing treaties and to say no to fossil fuels.

As President, among the first steps I would take would be instruct all federal agencies to respect the UN Declaration on Indigenous Peoples and seek the full and informed consent of indigenous communities. If that consent is not given, the use of federal property for fossil fuel and nuclear projects that will affect the land, lives, and livelihoods of indigenous peoples must be stopped immediately and permanently.

Ajamu and I salute the courageous people who are standing up to protect their land and Mother Earth. The time is now to stop the destruction of our planet for short-term profits. It’s in our hands.

Dr. Jill Stein is the Green Party candidate for president.


The views expressed by Contributors are their own and are not the views of The Hill.

Tags 2016 presidential election Climate change Dakota Access Pipeline Donald Trump Green Party Hillary Clinton North Dakota Standing Rock Sioux United States
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