LWV Bloomington and LWV Dakota County hosted a session on pipelines and their impact on Minnesota’s environment and people on April 18. A four-speaker panel addressed climate impacts, tribal rights, indigenous viewpoints and ways people can advocate on these issues. Robert Pilot, host of Native Roots Radio Presents, I’m Awake, was the moderator (center photo).
Alan Anderson from Citizen’s Climate Lobby pointed out the increase in extreme weather events in recent years, saying that climate change is affecting us now, and we need to make changes now to prevent more horrific consequences. His group works to awaken people to the issues and to work with their legislators to address the changes. Anderson urged people to talk about climate change, and recommended the website “skeptical science” as a way to find information to rebut misinformation. Citizen's Climate Lobby advocates for carbon fees and dividends as a way to use economic forces to reduce CO2 in the atmosphere.
Melissa Anderson is an attorney with Hogan Adams PLLC, a law firm specializing in tribal and treaty law. She explained that treaties with Native American nations are interpreted under the “Reserved Rights Doctrine”, in that things that were not specifically ceded remained with the Indian nation, and that the treaties are to be interpreted from the Native viewpoint. It is not reasonable to think that people would agree to live in a specific place without access to water, so therefore access to water must be provided. This is important in understanding the Standing Rock protests.
Eryn Wise (photo on right), organizer for Honor the Earth, passionately talked about her frustration at excuses made to gloss over the genocide that’s been committed on Native Americans for the past 500 years. She was at Standing Rock and briefly shared her experiences, sharing the story of the children and youth who with her there. Wise urged attendees to bring children to political events and to engage them in discussions about issues – children understand and will take action, they should not be sheltered. Earlier this week, Wise was removed from the Minnesota House of Representatives for speaking out from the gallery and she told about the frustration with the dialog that lead to this end.
Kathy Hollander, volunteer activist, rounded out the evening with a rousing call to action, talking about the outreach and advocacy that MN350 does on climate issues. She said that citizens need to be engaged on pipeline siting issues, and that provisions in bills now in the legislature would remove pipeline siting from Public Utilities Commission oversight. The evening was well put together, and was taped by the local cable company for later cable cast and YouTube. Music for the evening was provided by the Red Bone Singers, Native American singers from the Twin Cities.