Cowboys and Indians Ride on DC, Protesting Keystone XL for Earth Day

Manuel Balce Ceneta/APThousands gathered at the National Mall in Washington, D.C. on Sunday February 17, 2013 to hold President Barack Obama to his promise to combat climate change.
Manuel Balce Ceneta/AP
Thousands gathered at the National Mall in Washington, D.C. on Sunday February 17, 2013 to hold President Barack Obama to his promise to combat climate change.


Next week, April 22, former Green Party Vice-Presidential candidate Winona LaDuke and the Cowboy and Indian Alliance made up of Native people, farmers and ranchers will ride on horseback into Washington, D.C. to show their opposition to the Keystone XL pipeline.

The protest on Tuesday will be one of many activities kicking off Earth day 2014 at the National Mall in Washington, D.C. LaDuke’s organization, Honor the Earth will be joining forces with the Cowboy and Indian Alliance a group of about 30 Oglala Lakota Indians as well as a group of non-Native ranchers and farmers from North Dakota and Nebraska that have all joined forces in protest.

Additionally on the final day of protest, thousands have been invited to protest in unison against the pipeline and the Canadian Tar Sands. On Saturday April 26 at 11 a.m. at the National Mall between 7th and 9th streets, the Cowboy and Indian Alliance will make closing arguments against the pipeline.

Instructions on the Reject and Protect website state:

4 days after the Cowboy Indian Alliance tipis first go up on the Mall, we’ll gather at 11 AM on Saturday the 26th at the encampment to make our closing argument against the pipeline. As we gather, everyone there will be asked to make their thumbprint mark on a tipi. Then we’ll hear from the farmers, ranchers, tribal leaders and refinery community members who will be directly impacted by Keystone XL and the tar sands — and who have pledged to lead the resistance should it be approved.

Then, those leaders will carry our painted tipi to present to President Obama, with thousands of people standing behind them. This tipi will represent our hope that he will reject the pipeline, and our promise that we will protect our land, water and climate if he chooses to let the pipeline move forward.

Once the tipi is delivered, we’ll return to the encampment in song and make our pledge to continue resistance to the pipeline should it be approved.

In an e-mail campaign sent from the Honor the Earth Foundation LaDuke writes that many opposers to the pipeline will be in D.C. and will set up at the tipi camp at the National Mall and will ride to the White House “to show Obama and the world that Native Nations will stand firm in asserting our human and constitutionally protected treaty rights in saying NO to the Keystone XL Pipeline.”

In an interview with ICTMN, LaDuke said, “Our communities are continuing our spiritual work in opposing these pipelines – these pipelines threaten our water and our way of life.”

“My sister and my son will be riding horses, I might ride. They have asked me. There will be 30 Cowboys and Indians on horseback going all the way up to the White House on horseback to fight the Keystone pipeline. This is a continuation of that spiritual ride,” LaDuke said.

“To not have the pipeline is what we want, every time you look there is someone else at the White House. President Obama should do the right thing. I have enjoyed the fossil fuels era as have you, but I would like to gracefully exit it not crash my way out. We need to gracefully exit into renewable energies fuel efficiencies and bio diesels with a lot less impact. I have enjoyed it now I’m ready to go.”

LaDuke also said how people can support the cause. “They can support all of this by joining us in D.C. and sending us money, we are in the middle of fighting three pipelines and we are thinly staffed.”



Open Crop Art Calls for Rejection of Keystone XL Pipeline

Lou Dematteis/Spectral Q, via Bold NebraskaThe crop art image with HEARTLAND #NoKXL protests the proposed Keystone XL pipeline on a corn field outside of Neligh, Nebraska
Lou Dematteis/Spectral Q, via Bold Nebraska
The crop art image with HEARTLAND #NoKXL protests the proposed Keystone XL pipeline on a corn field outside of Neligh, Nebraska


Simon Moya-Smith, ICTMN

It’s a message not from an alien species, but from opponents of the Keystone XL pipeline.

Last week a crop-art image the size of 80 football fields was installed along the controversial pipeline’s proposed path in Neligh, Nebraska. The image includes the bust of a man in a cowboy hat and an American Indian in a porcupine roach with two feathers. Under the pair of heads is an illustration of water waves and the text, “HEARTLAND #NoKXL.”

The massive art installation, which was executed by artist John Quigley in partnership with the anti-Keystone XL Pipeline Cowboy and Indian Alliance, is meant to tell President Barack Obama to protect the heartland and reject the pipeline, according to Bold Nebraska, a coalition of groups and individuals opposing the project.

Opponents argue that it will contaminate drinking water and pollute the soil. Conversely, proponents state it will bring jobs to the U.S. The project has been controversial from the start, and now that the decision is down to the wire, the opposition is digging in even further.

“Jobs are not worth the risk of the future of our land,” Tessa McLean, Anishinaabe, a member of the Colorado American Indian Movement and an Idle No More activist, told Indian Country Today Media Network. “Even if the pipeline is safe, even if it never ever spills, it still takes the rights away from land owners. It goes through Indian country, and we don’t want anything going through our country without [our] consent. And Indians will never consent.”

RELATED: Can a Tipi Stop a Pipeline? South Dakota Tribes Stand Firm Against Keystone XL

The section of pipeline that still needs approval would cross the border from Canada, where the viscous bitumen originates in the Alberta oil sands, and cut through Montana, South Dakota, Nebraska and Kansas.

Ranchers, farmers and Native Americans who live on the pipeline route plan to descend on Washington, D.C. and camp near the White House beginning on April 22, which is Earth Day, to encourage the president’s support, according to the Cowboy and Indian Alliance website. On April 26, thousands of opponents are expected to join the campers and protest the pipeline.

Several camps are already installed along the pipeline route in Indian country. Descendants of the Ponca Tribe erected a camp in Nebraska in November. A second was established on the Rosebud Sioux reservation on March 29, and the Cheyenne River Sioux Tribe opened one on Saturday April 12.



College Cheer Squad Dresses Like Cowboys & Indians

Twitter.comA screen shot of a photo previously posted on the @UofRCheer's Instagram account. The photo was removed over the weekend.
A screen shot of a photo previously posted on the @UofRCheer’s Instagram account. The photo was removed over the weekend.


A photo that made the rounds on Twitter Sunday evening has sparked backlash against a cheerleading squad from the University of Regina in Saskatchewan, Canada.

The squad tweeted a photo taken during a practice event that showed 18 girls wearing cowboy costumes and “Indian” themed regalia. The squad members wore clothing that looked like pieced-together buckskin dresses, parted their hair and wore long braids, and put on headbands with feathers in their hair.

Valerie Timmons, the president of the university, said that the cheerleading coach has apologized for the team’s “culturally inappropriate themes and costumes.

“Further steps will require that the team’s coaches and team members discuss this matter as a group with the university’s Executive Lead on Indigenization and take cultural sensitivity training,” Timmons’s said in a statement. “Once these discussions have taken place, the university will determine whether further disciplinary actions are required.”

The photo was also posted on Instagram and received 44 likes before it was removed. U of R faculty, staff and students were outraged by the photo.

“I was disturbed by the image, and I thought that the team, like all of us who live in Saskatchewan, likely need formal education on the topic,” Andrea Sterzuk, an associate professor, told, “because treating First Nations and Métis women as a costume objectifies them, and that behavior, I think, contributes to their dehumanization, which is a larger problem that I think all Canadians need to be concerned about.”

Ryan Deschamps, a doctoral student at the university, told, “I thought we were kind of past this issue. I think it was something that we’ve seen in the news that’s obviously insensitive to certain people and I don’t understand how that actually happened.”

At least 10 percent of the students at the university are of aboriginal descent. It is also home to the First Nations University of Canada.

Someone using the @UofRCheer Twitter account responded to the backlash on Saturday: “We apologize for the photos, they have been removed from all of our social media. Our last intention was to disrespect anyone.”