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Last night, the Senate chambers briefly filled with the sounds of a Crow Creek Sioux tribe member named Greg Grey Cloud singing in victory after the vote on the Keystone XL Pipeline Bill was not passed. The bill failed to pass by only one vote.
This vote came after months of heated debate and increasingly strong rhetoric. Just last week, the Sioux declared the House’s passage of the proposed pipeline bill to be an act of war. The President of the Rosebud Sioux Tribe, Cyril Scott, stated:
“The House has now signed our death warrants and the death warrants of our children and grandchildren. The Rosebud Sioux Tribe will not allow this pipeline through our lands. We are outraged at the lack of intergovernmental cooperation. We are a sovereign nation and we are not being treated as such. We will close our reservation borders to Keystone XL. Authorizing Keystone XL is an act of war against our people.”
Scott has since clarified his statement, saying, “Did I declare war on our government? No, I did not. Did I declare war on the Keystone XL pipeline? Hell yeah, I did.” First Nations people from here and abroad have been actively protesting and training members in civil disobedience tactics in response to the proposed Keystone XL Pipeline, which would have been operated by TransCanada. There is little doubt that without their efforts and focus, the bill would have passed.
The victory song was roughly translated as “Grandfather look at me, I am standing here struggling, I am defending grandmother earth and I am chasing peace.” It was originally written as protest song about coal mining, and permission to use the song was obtained by family of the author. Grey Cloud was arrested, detained for 5 hours (he states that he was slammed against a wall by court officers after being bodily carried from the Senate chambers, singing the entire time).
For his public display of joy and victory, Grey Cloud has been issued a December 10th, 2014 court date. Ladybud applauds all the activists who fought for months to keep public attention on this potentially environmentally disastrous proposed pipeline. May the defeat of Keystone XL be the beginning of a new era, wherein the tribal lands of First Nation and indigenous peoples are respected and environmental concerns counterbalance corporate greed.
Photo Credit: By Brylie Oxley (Own work) (CC-BY-SA-3.0) via Wikimedia Commons