Megaload Stalled Again as Indigenous Ceremony Honors Tradition of Resistance

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from Earth First! Newswire

We have reports that the second megaload is stalled out in Pendleton, Oregon, due to weather, after Umatilla hereditary chiefs, drummers and tribal members gathered with allies for a ceremony.

Nixyaawii Drummers, from the Confederated Umatilla Tribes, gathered in prayer and song with 70 friends for a ceremony called by Chief Carl Sampson, Yellowbird, of the Wiluulapam tribe (one of the four confederated Umatilla tribes).

Chief Sampson spoke of the history of the treaty of 1855, and the ensuing war of settler encroachment. Another person from the Caddo tribe, of Texas, Louisiana, Arkansas, and Oklahoma, spoke about how TansCanada desecrated their sacred sites and created divisions in their tribe to make the Keystone XL pipeline.

There was one brush up with police.

According to a Portland Rising Tide member, “We said prayers at the megaload site and then approached it to take a group picture. The security guard flipped out and called the police, so we moved several feet away … A few Pendleton police cars showed up within 3 minutes, and advised everyone not to get into any physical confrontations with the workers or get hit by drunk holiday drivers.”

The megaload is illegally slated to move through Umatilla Accustomed Sites for hunting, gathering, and fishing, on its way to the Alberta tar sands, where it will manufacture oil to be shipped through the KXL pipeline (and, potentially, the Pacific Northwest).

In a recent letter to Governor Kitzhaber, Gary Burke, Chair of the Umatilla Reservation’s Board of Trustees, expressed opposition to the megaloads due to lack of government to government consultation with the tribe and the role of tar sands extraction in harming indigenous people and fueling global climate change.

This is the second megaload to move through Oregon, and tonight’s ceremony is the tenth action opposing the loads in a movement that has erupted over the last three weeks.

According to Portland Rising Tide’s Caroline Hudson, “This is a test run to see if Oregon can be part of a long term heavy haul route. Our state can’t be complicit in the destruction of our climate through the expansion of the tar sands if we have any hope of addressing the ongoing climate crisis. We stand in solidarity with the native people fighting to protect their homeland.”

In a call for support in their fight against the megaloads, Chief Yellowbird of the Walluulapum Tribe said, “we are sending a call out to all our relatives and friends concerned about the Tar Sands Megaload and long term impacts on our Tribal lands. We are looking seven generations ahead to protect Mother Earth. We go by our own natural laws that the creator gave us: Tamanwitt, we have followed these unwritten laws for thousands of years. Join us again in prayer for our homelands.”

Tonight’s action is the latest in a series of protests that have erupted in OR and WA since the megaload began to move.

The load was first blocked on December 1st, when two people locked themselves to the truck as an estimated 70 others rallied nearby, including Umatilla and Warm Springs tribal members.

The next night one Umatilla tribal elder was arrested while blocking the load, and most recently 17 people were arrested blockading the megaload outside of the town of John Gray in Eastern Oregon.

The 901,000 lb mega load is hauling a heat exchanger to the Athabasca oil fields in Alberta, Canada. A similarly-sized load toppled over weeks ago in Gladstone, OR, blocking part of I-205 for hours.

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