As corporations and politicians engage in economic environmental extortion over North American energy export of Tar Sands crude and Powder River coal, others are weaving a new narrative for survival. At the heart of that narrative are the sacred stories denoting the obligations and responsibilities of indigenous peoples to the health and well-being of all living things.
Honoring those stories through mutual defense in protecting the sacredness of creation was the impetus for the Ceremonial Grand Council gathering January 23-25 on Ihanktonwan homelands in South Dakota, where an international treaty was signed in support of the Rights of Mother Earth Accord and the UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples.
In the crosshairs of the treaty was the Tar Sands project in Canada, that has generated widespread opposition from indigenous nations across North America. As the corporations and politicians attempt to fast-track pipelines, rail lines and shipping terminals to profit from foreign markets, the indigenous nations whose territories would be ransacked by mining and shipping pollution are uniting against the environmental insanity of turbo-charged fossil fuel consumption in the era of increasingly catastrophic climate change.
As the sickness in the land from Tar Sands metastasizes in the form of cancers and other terminal diseases, indigenous peoples are joined by others in saying that there is a better way. Protecting the sacred by connecting with indigenous spirituality leads down a path of healing and renewal, while the path envisioned by Tar Sands promoters leads to utter devastation.
For those of us who came of age with the first Earth Day, relegating creation to the status of a fond memory is not an acceptable course. As corporations and politicians steer us on the rocks, seizing the helm from them becomes a matter of urgent necessity.