Dear Mitakuyapi (“Relatives” is a traditional greeting in the Lakota language),
Cante Waste ya Nape Ciyu zape ye (“I shake your hand with a good heart”). On January 24th, President Trump signed executive actions to advance approval of the Keystone XL and Dakota Access (DAPL) oil pipelines.
Native Americans in Philanthropy (NAP) stands for the health and well-being of Native communities across the country, including the protection of our rights as sovereign Native nations. These executive actions circumvent the legal process for environmental review of DAPL, which the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe and many others have raised very significant concerns about in regard to their water supply. Having been in office for less than a week, neither Trump nor his administration have ever consulted Standing Rock or other surrounding tribes on this harmful decision and violation of their treaty rights.
In a statement from the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe, Chairman Dave Archambault II stated, “We are not opposed to energy independence. We are opposed to reckless and politically motivated development projects, like DAPL, that ignore our treaty rights and risk our water. Creating a second Flint does not make America great again.”
On January 27th, Trump also signed an executive order suspending refugee resettlement and entry into the U.S. of people from several countries. The move prompted protests, court cases, and more. As Indigenous people to this land, we feel this order ignores the history of this country’s survival that relied heavily on the generosity of our ancestors. The hashtag #NoBanonStolenLand is a reminder to the administration that Indigenous people will not stand for the erasure of that history.
Native Americans were the first to welcome immigrants to share in the abundance of unci maka (Mother Earth), but we have been taken advantage of, forgotten and left struggling in poverty and underdevelopment. And yet, we see peoples like the Tohono O’odham — a tribe whose traditional lands stretch from Arizona into Mexico — still holding firm to their original beliefs of their ancestors, which did not include national borders. Issues facing America today, like DAPL, are not new to our communities. For centuries, Native communities have organized to protect lands and culture in both rural and urban settings.
We at NAP believe this time of movement building can catalyze a deep mainstream understanding of the issues of Indigenous peoples and history. We believe strategy is crucial to support meaningful work, and essential for long term permanent change. We must be prepared for a coordinated, sustained fight.
NAP has supported the education around the issues of Standing Rock in their fight against DAPL, hosting a regional convening and funder tour there in October 2016, and continuing to keep funders up-to-date on the situation through monthly calls. Our #GenIndigenous Response Fund was created out of the need for movement response funding to youth-led groups mobilizing and organizing in their communities, like in Standing Rock.
NAP will continue to #StandWithStandingRock and all those who stand opposed to the violation of our rights and those who stand for the protection of the earth. Please keep an eye on our website, Facebook, Twitter and Instagram as we continue to track the issue.
Sarah Eagle Heart, CEO
Native Americans in Philanthropy