Letter to the editor: Still standing
March 7, 2017
On Friday, March 10, at 4:30 p.m., supporters of Steamboat Stands with Standing Rock will hold a demonstration outside the Steamboat Springs Post Office. On March 28 at 6 p.m., we will show two documentary films and hold a silent auction at the Chief Theater to raise money for the Standing Rock Legal Defense Fund.
You may wonder why we are demonstrating in support of Standing Rock when the main camp has been cleared and the pipeline is all but complete. The answer is that numerous lawsuits against the pipeline company are still in play and continue to block the transfer of oil.
More importantly, the powerful message of the camps at Standing Rock has helped to ignite a larger and growing movement that seeks to defend the rights of all indigenous nations to have a final say over projects that directly affect their lands.
Our local efforts will be held in conjunction with a larger action in Washington, D.C., where leaders, members and supporters of Tribal Nations from across the country will meet with congressional representatives and then hold a march and demonstration. The D.C. march and all of its "sister" actions hope to convince President Trump to meet with tribal leaders to discuss and affirm respect for tribal rights.
If you think this is not your fight, please think again. At its core, the struggle at Standing Rock is the most fundamental, and indeed the oldest, fight for property rights.
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Across the United States, property rights of landowners, farmers and ranchers are increasingly threatened by energy development. Energy companies use — and abuse — mineral rights, subsurface leases and principles of "eminent domain" to proceed with mining, drilling and pipeline construction on private property, often without the land owner's consent.
There are an increasing number of lawsuits pitting private citizens against giant oil and pipeline companies, all in an effort to protect property values, the integrity of water and soil and the viability of farmlands.
Similarly and even closer to home, the Bureau of Land Management is finalizing plans to sell the mineral leases of 15,000 acres of private land — small acreages and ranches — in Routt County. Once those leases are sold, exploration and drilling can proceed without the consent of private land owners.
We stand with Standing Rock to push back against the energy industry's abuse of eminent domain and the subsequent erosion of private property rights. We stand with farmers and ranchers who seek to protect their lands and livelihood from the threats of drilling and pipeline spills.
And, most importantly, we stand in solidarity with the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe and all indigenous peoples as they fight for the right to maintain control over their lands and to preserve water and the earth for future generations.
Please join us in supporting Standing Rock. Mni wiconi — Water is life.
Kristy Anderson, Kate Bauer, Lauren Berrien, Begee Biggs, Erin Biggs, Nancy Brood, Nancy Ciran, Margo Fragola, Maria Goines, Hummer Marchand, Valerie McLarrin-Clark, Diane R Miller, Nina Rogers, Trizanne Rowley, Joshua Smith, Betty Truelove, Liz Wahl, Nancy Working and Genevieve Yazzie