Pope Francis disagreed with the stance of the Trump administration when he said that indigenous people have rights over their own lands.
President Trump recently ordered the Army Corps of Engineers to approve the final permit for the DAPL to be installed under the sacred water of Native Americans, regardless of the lack of the legally required environmental impact study and the strong objection of those that legally own the land.
The Washington Post reported Pope Francis insisted Wednesday that indigenous groups must give prior consent to any economic activity affecting their ancestral lands, a view that conflicts with the Trump administration, which is pushing to build a $3.8 billion oil pipeline over opposition from American Indians.
“The right to prior and informed consent should always prevail,” he said. “Only then is it possible to guarantee peaceful cooperation between governing authorities and indigenous peoples, overcoming confrontation and conflict.”
The Cheyenne River and the Standing Rock Sioux tribes have sued to stop construction multiple times, but most recently, a federal judge denied the request and approved the construction of the pipeline.
The pipeline threatens drinking water, cultural sites and ability to practice their religion, which depends on pure water. The water protectors have been plagued by police brutality during their resistance, even when on their own land guaranteed by a treaty with the U.S. government. The last piece of the pipeline is planned to pass under a reservoir on the Missouri River, on the eastern border of both tribes’ reservations.
Francis did not mention DAPL by name and the Vatican press office said he was not making a direct reference to it. But he has been a consistent outspoken supporter of indigenous rights, especially when it comes to businesses trying to abuse them in their efforts to make more profit.
Francis encouraged governments to consult native tribes and to get them involved in the decision making process.
“For governments, this means recognizing that indigenous communities are a part of the population to be appreciated and consulted, and whose full participation should be promoted at the local and national level,” Francis told the indigenous leaders Wednesday.
Although the U.S. government clearly does not recognize the right, Francis’s mention of prior consent is actually part of a U.N. declaration on the rights of indigenous peoples adopted in 2007. The U.S., Canada, Australia, and New Zealand opposed in favor of refusing indigenous people’s rights on their own land.
It is great that the Pope supports indigenous people’s rights over their own land. Unfortunately the U.S. leaders disagree with the Pope and the U.N. and their own government treaty with the tribes. The U.S. leaders have chosen to praise money over human rights and legal rights.
(Article By Jeremiah Jones)