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Indigenous resistance to for-profit energy pipelines | Angelique EagleWoman (Wambdi A. Was’teWinyan) – The Lawyer’s Daily

February 21, 2020

There are basic concepts that permeate Indigenous law among First Nations and the Indigenous peoples of North America. These concepts include the following principles: Mother Earth and human beings are in a reciprocal relationship; water is life and sacred for use in religious ceremonies; collective promises and responsibilities are to be kept and passed on from generation to generation; and there is a responsibility to steward natural resources for the next seven generations to come. These are legal principles and encapsulated in the teachings, oral histories and, in recent decades, written laws of Indigenous peoples in the Western Hemisphere.

The Dakota/Lakota/Nakota (also known as the Sioux) speak of a prophecy that the Zuzeca sapa (Black Snake) will come from the north and where it enters the ground sickness and death will devastate all. The prophecy speaks to the likely contamination from oil spills of waters relied upon for household use, religious ceremonies and habitat to continue treaty hunting and fishing rights. This was raised in a legal religious freedom argument for a preliminary injunction in federal court by the Cheyenne River Sioux Tribe to stop a government permit to drill under the Missouri River’s Lake Oahe for the Dakota Access pipeline (DAPL), but the court dismissed the request as barred by laches and not likely to succeed under U.S. law. See Standing Rock Sioux Tribe Standing Rock II, 239 F.Supp.3d 77 (D.D.C. 2017).

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