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2009-12-10

Indigenous Activists March on US Embassy in Copenhagen Urging Obama to “Stop the US Energy Industry’s War on Native Peoples and Lands”

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Shortly before President Obama received his Nobel Peace Prize in Oslo, a coalition of North American indigenous groups marched to the US embassy in Copenhagen calling on Obama to stop what they described as the war on native peoples and lands waged by the US energy industry. Speakers at the protest included Faith Gemmill from Arctic Village, Alaska and Clayton Thomas-Muller of the Canadian-based Indigenous Tar Sands Campaign. [includes rush transcript]

Transcript

This is a rush transcript. Copy may not be in its final form.

AMY GOODMAN: Shortly before President Obama received the Nobel Peace Prize today, a coalition of North American indigenous groups marched to the US embassy here in Copenhagen, calling on Obama to stop what they described as the war on native peoples and lands waged by the US energy industry.

Speakers at the protest included Faith Gemmill of Arctic Village in Alaska — she works with the group Resisting Environmental Destruction on Indigenous Lands — and Clayton Thomas-Muller of the Canadian-based Indigenous Tar Sands Campaign.

    FAITH GEMMILL: We’re here today to send a message to the US government that no longer can their energy policy and their unsustainable development practices threaten the future of indigenous peoples. This is what’s happening in America. All these indigenous communities are under threat by fossil fuel extraction and the fossil fuel issues that affect us, the energy issues.

    Alaska is ground zero for US energy policy. Many of our indigenous homelands, our ancestral territories, are under threat, and it threatens the very existence of our communities. We live a subsistence way of life that’s very, very much connected to our homelands. And for us to live that way of life, our homelands have to be intact.

    CLAYTON THOMAS-MULLER: You know, today President Obama accepts his Nobel Peace Prize, when we all know that it’s just representing such immense hypocrisy, with calling out 30,000 US troops to continue to go into Afghanistan and oppress peoples in the Middle East.

    The administration continues to oppress indigenous peoples and racialize communities in the United States and in Canada through their energy and climate policies. So we’re here in Copenhagen at the United Nations international climate negotiations to call out the US government and their little bully brother, the Darth Vader of Copenhagen, the Canadian government, in their ridiculous and oppressive energy policies and to say we want a just and clean future, a new economic paradigm that doesn’t sacrifice our communities at the altar of irresponsible policies for the economic benefit of the select few who pull the political strings.

AMY GOODMAN: The indigenous activists then delivered their letter to the US embassy in Copenhagen.

    INDIGENOUS ACTIVIST: ...the United States respect the rights of indigenous peoples and that they endorse the Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples.

    TERENCE McCULLEY: As you know, the United States has a very large delegation here at COP15. The United States is committed to active participation in this dialogue. I have a Cherokee background myself, and it’s an honor for me to accept your statement, which I will ensure gets to the ambassador.

AMY GOODMAN: Indigenous leaders delivering a letter to the US embassy in Copenhagen. They delivered it to Terence McCulley, the chargé d’affaires of the embassy.

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