Monday, July 03, 2006

Oil Pipeline Threatens Ancestral Dehcho Indian Land

For 3 decades the Dehcho Indians have been resisting a $ 7 billion project to build an 800 mile long natural gas pipeline right through the tribe's traditional territory. Shell Canada, Imperial Oil, Conoco Phillips, & Exxon-Mobil Canada plan to build this pipeline to help spawn industrial development in Canada's boreal forest, one of the last intact areas of the Earth's original forest cover.
The project would serve North American energy markets, primarily the US & Canada. Canada's newly elected Conservative goverment are not willing to let the Dehcho stand in the way of the project, which plans to start building in 2008 & finish a few years later.
Jim Prentice, minister of Indian affairs, has declared that the pipeline will go ahead, with or without the tribe's blessing. These statements have only strengthend the resistance from the 4,500 member tribe, which happens to be the largest native group along the pipeline.
Grand Chief Herb Norwegian said that if the goverment tries to take Dehcho land for the pipeline construction, the tribe would retaliate with blockades & litigation. The Dehcho fear that hundreds of trucks would disrupt their quiet communities, breed drug & alcohol abuse from the construction camps, & drive away caribou, moose, & other wildlife that sustains the tribe. The Dehcho have occupied this land for centuries, & cannot afford to lose it--not only is it home, but it is their source of food & income.
About 40% of the pipeline route crosses Dehcho land. Before they think about approving of the construction, the Dehcho want a power-sharing agreement over 80,000 square miles of ancestral territory, allowing them to preserve lands for cultural or enviromental purposes, to control industrial development, & collect royalties & taxes. The goverment thinks the Dehcho's demands are unrealistic. But the only thing unrealistic is the goverments plan to strip away the rights & land of this aboriginal tribe, leaving them very little. The goverment has tried to lowball the Indians by offering them only 18% of their traditional lands & $ 104 million. How can the goverment place a price tag, & a ridiculous low one at that, on the lands that have sustained & housed these people for centuries? It makes me sick that these Capitalist pigs have no regard for human & animal life--only human money.
Conservation groups are also very concerned about the pipeline's impact on one of the continents greatest natural resources--Canada's 1.4 billion acre boreal/northern forest. It is not only home to many species of wildlife, but is a major storage of fresh water. It is truly one of the last greatest wildernesses of the world.
If the pipeline construction goes ahead, not only will the Dehcho Indians suffer, but the enviroment there & all it contains will suffer as well.
Although the Dehcho take charging bears & subzero temperatures with stride, coping with the threat of the pipeline has been quite a traumatic experience.
Steven Jose-Cli, a Dehcho who supplements his diet & income by fishing, hunting, & trapping since boyhood said, " I dont want the pipeline to go through because it will destroy it all, and this is all I have."

Visit here for more info on the Dehcho & the beautiful land they inhabit.