Dear Mr. Chairman Michael B. Jandreau,
Elections in the Lower Brule Sioux Tribe, the Kul Wicasa Oyate, are around the corner. Anyone concerned about the future of the Indigenous Nations and lands along the Keystone XL corridor and the catastrophic impact Alberta tarsands extraction will have on all people and lands should take notice.
In our small Nation, much is at stake, not just for us but for the rest of the world. The future of our Nation, the Oceti Sakowin, is at stake. Our treaty lands are at stake, for both Native and non-Native peoples. The health and well-being of all our human and non-human relations are at stake.
The enemy is at the gates, and you have given them the keys.
The Lower Brule Sioux Tribal Council is the ONLY Nation of the Oceti Sakowin publicly supporting the multinational corporation TransCanada, the firm contracted to build the Keystone XL pipeline. Our land, Kul Wicasa Makoce (Lower Brule Sioux sovereign land), is the only tribal land KXL infrastructure will cross. And our current elected officials support the pipeline’s construction, in the face of years of protest by our relatives and the citizens of our Nation.
You should all be ashamed.
In a recently released campaign letter signed and authored by you, the incumbent Tribal Chairman Michael B. Jandreau, you state that: “The 876 mile Keystone XL pipeline is an important issue to many of our people, however in a country where there are over 2,000,000 miles of pipeline (oil, gas and chemical) it is an issue that needs to be put into perspective.”
With all due respect, Mr. Chairman, as a relative, as a citizen of our Nation, as an educator, as an ikce wicasa (a common man), and, more importantly, as a disenfranchized voter, let me put this into perspective: I would never vote for you, and I pray that our people will in good conscience never vote for you and your cronies, and the corporation you chose to represent.
You don’t serve the people.
In fact, you’re a turncoat on the Oceti Sakowin. Your legacy will be forever tarnished with the acts of your reign: in the 1980s you pushed for a monetary settlement of OUR He Sapa (the Black Hills); you led the settlement with the state of South Dakota for our shoreline rights of OUR sacred Mni Sose (the Missouri River); you were a collaborator with Dan Snyder’s Redsk*ns to sell our popcorn in that racist sports team’s stadiums; and now you have collaborated with the worst of all our enemies, TransCanada.
You sold us out. The people in your administration sold us out.
Many, many of our relatives courageously resisted these actions. We still do with the knowledge that we have paid with our livelihoods. Yet, we persist because we have a better vision than what you promise us. We have to live with the shame that you turned your back on the Oceti Sakowin, our relatives. We have to live with the fact that you sold out the First Nations battling against the devastations of their lands against tarsands extraction—which the Keystone XL pipeline will only exacerbate.
You sold us all out. And the rest of world knows that you are on the wrong side of history.
Your opposition is young. They are educated in the ways of our sovereign rights as relatives and treaty signers, something you have forgotten. They represent the people. They are the protectors of our lands and rights.
You may go down in history as the longest serving tribal chairman, but your reputation and legacy will be forever stained by your actions against your own people.
Change is coming and its a beautiful thing. Embrace it.
Nick Estes (Tatanka Oohitika)
Lower Brule Sioux Tribal Citizen