First Nations Petition Obama on Native Rights vs. Dirty Energy

posted by Brant Ran

How will an Obama Administration handle Native Rights issues in the face of fossil fuel expansion? That’s the question raised in a good article from by Joe Friesen in the Globe and Mail today. Several northern Indigenous leaders will soon visit the President Elect to ask for support in battling dirty oil development on their traditional territories. According to the article,

They will ask Mr. Obama to put pressure on the Canadian government and the TransCanada and Enbridge pipeline companies to agree to a revenue-sharing deal for native people.

Friesen also provides background on seven Native American members of Obama’s transition team including several beltway veterans and a new positon for Wizipan Garriott, the first ever “First Americans public-liason officer” for an incoming administration.

A wave of major coal and oil developments within Native Lands in the US and Canada will no doubt keep the team busy. Aside from controversies in Canada, TransCanada also faces lawsuits from Native communities South of the boarder claiming that the company failed to conduct proper environmental reviews. In Arizona, Navajo Nation and Hopi Tribe members are taking direct action to oppose proposed coal mines.

Obama’s team should show leadership on Indigenous rights by embracing the delegation from the North and strongly enfocing US treaty obligations. It should also move to reverse the course set by the Bush Administration by endorsing the UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous People–already signed by 143 members of the United Nations (but not the US and Canada).