Donate to fund Native cultural surveys of the KXL route(Nate Phillips and daughter Alethea Phillips at Ponca Corn Planting and Land Deeding, June 2018. Photo: Alex Matzke)

Donate to fund Native cultural surveys of the KXL routeIn the face of racism and hatred on Saturday in our nation’s capitol, veteran and Omaha Tribe elder Nathan Phillips exhibited courage and calm that has inspired a national conversation.

We thank Nate for his military service to this country, and honor the work he continues to this day with veterans and young people with the Native Youth Alliance, which strives to ensure that traditional Native American cultural and spiritual ways continue for the coming generations.

Nate is a longtime pipeline fighter and water protector. If you’ve been to Bold’s events over the years, you might have already met Nate — or witnessed the beauty of his dancing and singing at the “Harvest the Hope” NoKXL concert with Willie Nelson and Neil Young; or on the historic day last year when land inside the Keystone XL route was deeded back to the Ponca Nation by a Nebraska farming family; or maybe in D.C. at the NoKXL “Reject & Protect” weeklong tipi encampment on the National Mall in 2014.

But most of the world now knows Nathan from what happened on Saturday, his actions and words after the Indigenous Peoples March. [1]

To the smirking teen standing directly in his face, Nate sang the “American Indian Movement Song” aka the “Raymond Yellow Thunder Song,” which is said to “honor the life of an Oglala elder brutally murdered by white settlers in Gordon, Nebraska in 1972.” [2] The song is said to serve as a ceremony to send the spirits home, and Nate said that during the moment he “felt like the spirit was walking through me.” [3]

I reached out to Nate, Tribal Chairmen and Native allies to seek guidance on what we as an organization, and a movement of pipeline fighters, can do in this moment to support our collective work.

One of the most outrageous and unforgivable oversights in the ten-year-plus battle to stop Keystone XL is the fact that “cultural resources surveys” of Native American sites have never been conducted on the proposed pipeline’s route. These surveys, which can only be properly conducted by trained members of a particular Tribe, determine whether sites that are sacred to Native people are in the path of a development project, such as a pipeline, and can be used to protect those sites from destruction.

Despite the fact that it is common knowledge the KXL route crosses the historic Ponca Trail of Tears, where thousands died after forced removal from their homeland at the hands of the U.S. government — no proper cultural resource survey has yet been conducted. Likewise, there are lands on the proposed route in South Dakota where the Cheyenne River Sioux Tribe and Yankton Sioux have not yet been able to produce these crucial cultural resource surveys.

These cultural resource surveys cost as much as $30,000, per Tribe, to conduct by trained Tribal Historic Preservation Officers in the field over the large swaths of land in question.

Donate today to fund cultural resource surveys of the proposed KXL route, to ensure sacred and historical indigenous sites like the Ponca Trail of Tears are protected.

Thanks for standing with us.

Jane and the Bold team

(Note: All donations via this page will go specifically to fund cultural resource surveys of the KXL route with our allies including Nathan Phillips, Tribal Chairmen and Indigenous Environmental Network.)

REFERENCES:

[1] “Omaha tribe member Nathan Phillips in spotlight in face of taunting teens,” Omaha World-Herald, 1/21/19.

[2] Nick Estes, Twitter post, Jan. 20, 2019, 8:50 a.m., twitter.com/nick_w_estes/status/1086999488445595649

[3] “Native American man harassed by teens speaks out,” CNN, 1/21/19.