Halt Construction on DAPL — An Open Letter to President Obama
November 21, 2016
Dear President Barack Obama:
We are members of the Native American Affairs Committee of Society for Advancement of Chicanos/Hispanics and Native Americans in Science (SACNAS) and we are writing to you on behalf of and representing SACNAS. Through SACNAS, we serve nearly 20,000 Native American, Chicano/Hispanic, and other underrepresented minority scientists, making us the largest multicultural and multidisciplinary STEM diversity organization in the United States. Moreover, SACNAS has been recognized by the National Science Foundation as the preeminent minority serving scientific society in the country and was awarded the Presidential Award for Excellence in Science, Mathematics and Engineering Mentoring because of our commitment to truly diversify the STEM workforce. An important role for SACNAS is to integrate traditional indigenous knowledge with modern technology and science; thus, SACNAS urgently requests your leadership to intervene and halt construction of the Dakota Access Pipeline (DAPL).
This pipeline is of great concern to SACNAS because it presents a clear and present danger to water sources for the Standing Rock Sioux Tribal Nation and countless communities along the entire path of the pipeline. Needless to say, this pipeline will cause great harm to the environment for current and future generations. We, as Native Americans, have been subjected to this type of aggression for over 500 years so we are once again taking a stand to prevent further exploitation. We continually fight to protect land and water from unnecessary development and potential harm, and now is the time for the United States government to stand with us. We need your strong leadership to halt the construction of the DAPL in order to protect the natural resources of the Standing Rock Tribal Nation and all people along the pipeline’s path.
We are the descendants of tribal chiefs who signed original treaties with the United States promising that the land and water would be safe and protected for future generations. As active SACNAS members and proud citizens of the United States, we call on our government leaders to protect everyone’s access to clean water and to safeguard our sacred homelands. Furthermore, we are opposed to the use of government-funded police and military that appear to be protecting the corporate fossil fuel industry and not the people protecting water and land. We are concerned about the future of our country and Mother Earth so we ask you to stand with us as we are encouraged by your recent comments on the DAPL.
We respectfully request that you take the following actions:
1. Make an official public statement regarding potential harm of the DAPL.
2. Direct your agencies to protect, in absolute terms, the water and other resources on and near tribal lands now and for generations to come.
3. Halt construction of the DAPL, especially through indigenous territories, until suitable alternatives are explored and identified.
4. Ensure that those who are peacefully protesting be treated with dignity, respect, and remain unharmed, as this is a constitutional human right.
Please, join us to protect our water, as well as indigenous homelands, for the future of the earth by halting the construction of the Dakota Access Pipeline which is symbolic of America’s overall dependency on non-renewable energy. Let’s work together to prevent the exploitation of our natural resources and support instead the research of diverse scientists committed to innovative energy solutions and sustainable resource management. Support instead our work to include diverse STEM leaders in policy decisions, particularly those that effect the land and lives of underrepresented minorities.
We implore you to join SACNAS’ call to seek environmentally-sound methods for energy production for our people and country. We ask that you protect water sources and seek alternatives to this pipeline that will not desecrate indigenous territories.
SACNAS Native American Affairs Committee Members
LeManuel Bitsoi, EdD, Navajo
David Burgess, PhD, Cherokee
Healani Chang, DrPH, Native Hawaiian
Benjamin Clarke, PhD, Grand Portage Anishinaabe
Katrina Claw, PhD, Navajo
Casey Dorr, PhD, Mille Lacs Band of Ojibwe
Allyn Kaufmann, PhD, Quapaw/Pawnee
Marigold Linton, PhD, Cahuilla-Cupeno
Clifton Poodry, PhD, Seneca
Ahna Skop, PhD, Eastern Band of Cherokee
Nina Wampler, DSc, MPH, Eastern Band of Cherokee
Corey Welch, PhD, Northern Cheyenne
Ex Officio Committee Members
Antonia O. Franco, EdD, Executive Director
Ernest Marquez, PhD, Director of Native American Affairs and Science Policy
Robert Barnhill, PhD. Vice President for Science Policy & Strategic Initiatives
Gabriel Montano, PhD, President, Board of Directors
Lino Gonzalez, PhD, President Elect, Board of Directors