January 23, 2013
Assembled Elected Leadership, Treaty Councils, Traditional Leaders and Societies
Gathering to Protect the Sacred from the Tar Sands and Keystone XL
c/o Treaty Council of the Ihanktonwan Oyate (Yankton Sioux Tribe)
PO Box 1153
Wagner, SD 57380
Re: Gathering to Protect the Sacred January 23-25, 2013
We write on behalf of the Yinka Dene Alliance, on the occasion of this historic gathering in Ihanktonwan territory. We are honoured by the invitation to attend and send our deep regrets that we are unable to be there with you.
We wish to acknowledge the significance of this, the 150th anniversary of the Treaty Between the Pawnee and Yankton Sioux, and your resolve to stand together in upholding this historic treaty through your opposition to the TransCanada Keystone XL Pipeline.
From the headwaters of the Fraser River in our homelands, to the Ogallala Aquifer in yours, tar sands oil projects threaten the water that is our lifeblood. Like you, our cultures, our lands and our waters are put at risk by proposed tar sands pipelines and we stand in full solidarity with nations and tribes who have gathered this week. Our blessings and prayers are with you in your intention to sign an International Treaty to Protect the Sacred from Tar Sands Projects, uniting impacted nations and tribes for mutual defence against the Keystone XL pipeline and other tar sands infrastructure projects.
We would like to build on the unprecedented unified action represented by this week’s gathering by inviting representatives of the gathered nations and tribes to a ceremony in Ottawa, Canada the week of March 4, 2013 in order that our respective nations may formalize their intent to work together to protect Mother Earth from the common threat of tar sands projects. We invite you to join us at that time to sign in support of the Save the Fraser Declaration as we sign the International Treaty to Protect the Sacred.
In 2010, the Yinka Dene Alliance nations created the Save the Fraser Declaration –an Indigenous law ban on tar sands pipelines and tankers from the Fraser River watershed and the ocean migratory routes of Fraser River salmon –based on the ancestral laws through which we have governed our territories since time immemorial. Representatives of more than 130 nations have now signed the Declaration. Together with other nations who have taken the decision to reject the Enbridge Northern Gateway project, we form an unbroken wall of opposition through which tar sands pipelines will not pass. We will continue to uphold our lawful responsibilities to protect our lands and waters through all legal means, including standing in solidarity with other tribes and nations threatened by tar sands projects.
During the week of March 4, 2013, we plan to travel to the Parliament in Ottawa to bring this message directly to Canada’s elected officials, to meet with other nations from across Canada who are impacted by tar sands projects, and to host the unity ceremony referenced above. We would be honoured by your attendance, and invite you to identify a contact person(s) with whom we could coordinate to plan logistics for this event at your earliest convenience. If you could reply to Geraldine Thomas-Flurer, the Yinka Dene Alliance Coordinator, at firstname.lastname@example.org or by phone at 250-570-1482, she would be happy to assist with arrangements.
Snachailya’, Mussi cho’
Chief Ogen, Wet'suwet'en First Nation
Chief Abraham, Takla Lake First Nation
Chief Pierre, Tl'azt'en First Nation
Chief Thomas, Saik'uz First Nation
Chief Sam, Nak'azdli First Nation
Chief Louie, Nadleh Whut'en First Nation