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News & analysis from Proletarian Internationalist Notes—news, reviews and analysis from a global perspective
Full transcript: Standing Rock Sioux nation address to the UN Human Rights Council
transcribed October 1, 2016
The below transcript is provided because this writer wasn’t able to find a good transcript of the whole address. The address(1) is itself considered a historic moment for indigenous nations of North America.
The proposed pipeline, almost two thousand kilometers long, impacts or potentially impacts many First Nations. It doesn’t affect just the Standing Rock Sioux and other nations/groups of Sioux people belonging to the larger Sioux nation, which along with other nations is still owed land illegally taken by the U.$. government. For many First Nations people, the anti-DAPL struggle is about land and sovereignty, to which they have a right regardless of Amerikans’ economic, energy and environmental concerns.
There is a long history of amerikans’ violating First Nations’ sovereignty even by breaking agreements they themselves imposed and signed. The First Nations’ struggle against the Dakota Access Pipeline (DAPL) is one the biggest in living memory. As it gets more publicity, there is a chance to change public opinion – or reinforce it in an undesirable way – regarding such violations of law and sovereignty. That is in addition to stopping the pipeline project, which has already destroyed some burial and prayer sites.
Like Palestine, the Great Sioux Nation is a nation containing aspirations of greater unity/wholeness, independent statehood, and full sovereignty. And like Palestine, the Great Sioux Nation is experiencing ongoing settlement and colonialism, internal governmental issues related to partitioning, and results of other nations’ failure to honor/obey and enforce treaties and other international law. The majority-exploiter imperialist settler entity called “the United States” subjects nations both inside and outside u.$. borders – and Palestinians both inside and outside the Green Line – to colonialism and even opposes the two-state solution in Palestine despite verbal agreements. It happened that the Standing Rock Sioux Chairman spoke to the Human Rights Council in Geneva just a day before the International Day of Peace and two days before Mahmoud Abbas(2) spoke to the General Assembly in New York.
With a global, long-term perspective and the world’s help, the Sioux nation will get their land back and full sovereignty one day. Some in denial about this are attempting to subsume the anti-DAPL struggle under some anti-capitalist or environmental struggle including the ameriKKKan petty-bourgeoisie and/or opposing nationalism of oppressed nations. Some others talking about colonialism and sovereignty nonetheless openly say their real concern is climate change. Hopefully they can still contribute something to the struggle. Apparently, it is too much to ask more amerikkkans to just abide by their own treaties and other laws. If First Nations people weren’t facing staggering state power, a numerically large enemy and dog attacks like Palestinians also have, there would be less compulsion to tolerate certain outsider activists who seemingly may undermine the anti-DAPL struggle or larger struggles by making their own priorities central.
Overall, it looks like the struggle of the Standing Rock Sioux as a nation was well-represented in this brief spoken statement in Geneva.
Word counts follow.
Human Rights Council President Choi Kyong-lim: I give the floor to the distinguished representative of Indian Law Resource Center.
Chairman Dave Archambault II: Thank you, Mr. President.
My name is Dave Archambault. I am the Chairman of the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe. Our tribal nation is a sovereign nation located in the United States. Our sovereignty is recognized by the United States through the legally binding treaties of 1851 and 1868, signed by our traditional Lakota government, Oceti Sakowin (Oceti Šakowiŋ, the Seven Council Fires), then passed by the United States Senate, and proclaimed by the President of the United States.
I am here because oil companies are causing the deliberate destruction of our sacred places and burials. Dakota Access Pipeline [Dakota Access, LLC, a subsidiary of Energy Transfer Partners; a.k.a. “Dakota Access”] wants to build an oil pipeline under the river that is the source of our nation’s drinking water. This pipeline threatens our communities, the river, and the earth.
Our nation is working to protect our waters and our sacred places for the benefit of our children not yet born. But the oil companies and the government of the United States have failed to respect our sovereign rights. Today, the pipeline construction continues. Although it has temporarily stopped near our nation, this company has knowingly destroyed sacred sites and our ancestral graves with bulldozers. This company has also used attack dogs to harm individuals who tried to protect our water and our sacred sites.
I condemn all violence, including the use of guard dogs.
While we have gone to the court in the United States, our courts have failed to protect our sovereign rights, our sacred places, and our water. We call upon the Human Rights Council and all Member States to condemn the destruction of our sacred places and to support our nation’s efforts to ensure that our sovereign rights are respected. We ask that you call upon all parties to stop the construction of the Dakota Access Pipeline and to protect the environment, our nation’s future, our culture, and our way of life.
Thank you, Mr. President.
our nation’s [Sioux] drinking water: 1
our [Sioux] water: 3
climate change: 0
dependence/addiction [oil]: 0
nation [not the united $tates]: 7
nation [“America”]: 0
Martin Luther King: 0
1. “Standing Rock Sioux Chairman takes #NODAPL to the United Nations,” 2016 September 20. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dW0d_WsuL0Y
See: “UN body says Sioux must have say in pipeline project,” 2016 August 31. http://bigstory.ap.org/article/635d13d28ee64f1c8421596e02d4f4f5/un-body-says-sioux-should-have-say-pipeline-project
2. “Sending the right signal: Abbas, BDS, and diplomacy,” 2016 September. https://github.com/pinotes/pinotes.github.io/blob/master/_posts/2016-09-29-news-Abbas-BDS-diplomacy.md