1 Point 5

How Is Indigenous Sovereignty Related to Air Quality?

Episode Summary

Indigenous activist Jaike Spotted Wolf explains Indigenous sovereignty, how it is connected to fossil fuel pipelines, and why it is a necessary climate justice solution.

Episode Notes

Indigenous activist Jaike Spotted Wolf explains Indigenous sovereignty, how it is connected to fossil fuel pipelines, and why it is a necessary climate justice solution.

You can find Jaike Spotted Wolf on Instagram or Facebook using the links below.

Additional resources:

Mandan, Hidatsa and Arikara Nation - https://www.mhanation.com/

Understanding the Issue of Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women - https://www.nativehope.org/en-us/understanding-the-issue-of-missing-and-murdered-indigenous-women

US Indian Boarding School History - https://boardingschoolhealing.org/education/us-indian-boarding-school-history/

Wearing Orange To Heal, To Remember, And Build Collective Power: NDN Collective Honors Orange Shirt Day -https://ndncollective.org/wearing-orange-to-heal-to-remember-and-build-collective-power-ndn-collective-honors-orange-shirt-day/

Episode Transcription

1 Point 5: A Kids Climate Justice Podcast 

S1EP09, How Is Indigenous Sovereignty Related to Air Quality?


Zanagee: A note to our listeners: 

Some of the content contained in today’s episode may be sensitive to listeners. Our conversation acknowledges the existence of man camps and residential schools, as well as the traumatic and violent events against Indigenous children and communities throughout North America. 

Olivia: We have chosen to include this information in the episode because it helps to provide a deeper context for the wholeness of the topic discussed.

Grownups, consider previewing this episode prior to sharing it with kids. And hold space for kids listening to pause the episode, ask questions, and seek further understanding. We have added links in the show notes to a number of helpful resources for exploring this topic together.

Thank you.


Olivia: Hi there and welcome back to 1 Point 5: A Kids Podcast About Climate Justice! I’m Olivia Greenspan.

Zanagee: And I’m Zanagee Artis.

Olivia: And we believe that kids like you deserve a livable future. 

Smart Speaker: A liveable future. This means a future where no one will have to worry if our planet is healthy enough for humans to live safe and happy lives. 

Zanagee: That’s Joanna. She’s our on-hand dictionary if we ever come to a word or phrase you might not know or understand already. 

Olivia: In our show we explore the challenges facing our planet with scientists, youth activists, and other environmental leaders who have experienced the realities of the climate crisis firsthand. 

Zanagee: Today is the second Episode of our third and final part of the first Season of 1 Point 5. In today’s episode, we are focusing on the issue of pipelines and Indigenous sovereignty as a solution to our over-carbonized and polluted atmosphere.

Olivia: Yes, today our expert guest is Jaike Spotted Wolf. Our conversation with Jaike covered what it means to Jaike to be Indigenous, what a pipeline is, and Indigenous sovereignty.

We found our conversation with Jaike powerful and informative. We hope you feel the same. 


Jaike: My name is Jaike Spotted Wolf. My pronouns are new nunpa nagi. That means two spirit in Lakota. My reservation is in Fort Berthold, North Dakota, um, and shares with some territory over in Eastern one. My tribe is Mandan, Sanish and Hidatsa. We are the three affiliated tribes. And the reason we are affiliated is because over time, uh, either disease or war killed out each individual tribes to the point where they had to amalgamate and become one tribe in order to get in what we call enrollment.

Zanagee: I also just wanted to ask how you define indigenous and what that means to you. 

Jaike: So there is, you know, what the government would consider is that formal indigenous, do I have blood quantum that's um, also problematic.

Right, because to prove that you are indigenous means that you were born into a line of people that lived in a tribe for centuries. And then, um, we're granted enrollment status, which opens you up to, you know, royalties from a casino. And there's no royalties. We'll be honest about that. And then indigenous can also mean, um, true to the land, you know, and that doesn't exclude.

Those that are here now that immigrated here from other parts of the world, true to the land, because we took in people that were not just born into the tribe. We adopted people all the time and they didn't have to be our skin color. 

So indigenous can mean um a steward of a land, somebody who's true to their virtues, true to their morality, their identity that cares about community that perpetuates a sense of belonging and of love and a concern for not just the source that feeds you, which is Mother Earth. 

Right. But for those that need to be fed and those that need to be, um, that need water, you know, that need soil to survive. So to me, indigenous means caring for, for what gave you life.

Zanagee: Thank you. 

Olivia: Thanks for asking that question Zanagee.

Zanagee: Yeah, thank you for sharing that. Um, so this episode is air and throughout the season of 1.5, we've been talking about fossil fuels, what environmental justices. Um, and we want to talk today about pipelines. And so wanted to just ask what is a pipeline? 

Jaike: A pipeline is essentially like a tube, a big, big tube that runs from wherever the extraction site, meaning wherever they're drilling.

For oil from the earth or, uh, for natural gas from the earth to up to the surface. And then it flows down into, um, usually a port where it can be refined and then shipped out to wherever the company is trying to export it to, to then sell it as a product. 

Olivia: Beautiful definition. Okay. So a pipeline is something that goes from the source of a fossil fuel to it's ultimate place of being, um, like refined into the product that people use.

Zanagee: Yeah. Okay. And then, um, we also wanted to ask about, uh, problems related to pipelines. So we know the pipeline spill, uh, at the extraction site, during transport. Um, what are some of the problems with pipelines and what are alternatives to fossil fuels that can offer more protection to ecosystems for energy use?

Jaike: Um, okay. So in the case of line three, out in Minnesota, they have a specific type of oil that they're transporting. It's called tar sands oil. So the oil is coming up from the ground, um, mixed with sand and these pipes. Um, because as you may learn, as you grow up, corporations don't always take due diligence or due time to make sure that something is very, very, very safe and that, um, there are precautions put into place to make sure that a product is, um, uh, going to prevent any kind of devastation. 

And this is the same case, same case with Enbridge and the pipelines that it has put into the ground is that every of their pipelines have burst. And there has not been enough, um, infrastructure around that quite to, uh, prevent the devastation to the land around it.

So when we consider tar sands oil, it would be just like, if you've ever played the beach and you had a mixture of say dish soap or, um, of water even in and sand and that sand, how impossible is it to get the sand removed from any other substance? Right. So when we talk about tar sands oil, if there's ever a leak or a breakage in the pipe, it will destroy the surrounding area to the point where you'll never get that, um, that oil completely removed as some people, especially oil companies have taught us over.

We can just go out and try to collect it, you know, and like, uh, use some Dawn soap and try to recover the animals. That's what it will impact. It will impact the water. Um, the mind three, um, had frackouts all summer and that looks like a piercing and the aquifer under the river bed, where they were trying to put the drill under the Mississippi river along different points, all along the line.

And those frac outs are chemicals that pierce the aquifer. That the chemicals rose up to the ground and destroyed any of these surrounding ecology or animals. And they're finding that, uh, now that there are cysts on the fish that were in that water supply, um, you know, grasses aren't growing back. I mean, it is when a time.

So it is, uh, you know, the, the season for things to stay dormant, but even so in the springtime, we're anticipating to see a lot of damage from those, uh, aquifers being pierced. And, uh, how can we prevent that? Um, more investment, I believe in hemp, bamboo, uh, hemp can be a power source in terms of, cause we could use solar, but then we've got another problem.

Solar is powered by lithium, right? 

Joanna: Lithium is a metal used in solar panels and batteries. 

Jaike: And we've got the issue of where do we find lithium. And currently there's another fight over in Nevada called the backer past bite that's out outside of Winnemucca. So. They're trying to mine, that lithium to put into these solar panels so that you can regenerate the solar every day.

And, um, for the most part, you know, these lithium stores are going to be on reservation land, and it's going to mean a devastation to the earth from which they are tying to mine from. So it's still another form of resource extraction and hemp and bamboo, a very strong fibers that can be converted down into much less harsh on the surrounding environment, the environment that the soil loves for the most part, growing either of those things, um, they can be made into, you know, something that is like plastic or like a fiber, or that is clothing that is woven. 

So the resources that you can make out of either one of those two elements, um, are really kind of endless and solve that problem of, you know, looking for other resources.

Substitute the oil or the petroleum or the natural gas that we are so dependent on as a country. 

Zanagee: Awesome. Yeah, there is a lot of solutions, I think, in what you shared there and also really important, uh, noting vets, uh, solar power, although it's, it's applauded as this renewable energy also has extraction.

Joanna: Extraction: the act of taking out something, especially using effort or force.

Zanagee: …this renewable energy also has extraction and does relate to. Harm for indigenous communities and harm for communities across the country and around the world. 

Olivia: More when we return from Jaike Spotted Wolf after this quick break. 


Olivia: Welcome back to One Point Five, a Kids Podcast About Climate Justice. Let’s return to our conversation with Jaike Spotted Wolf.

Zanagee: So you mentioned the line three pipeline, um, and, uh, it's being led by Enbridge, which is a Canadian company. Could you talk about, um, what is Enbridge 

Jaike: Enbridge is a Canadian company. Um, they own pipelines around the globe or subsidiaries of which they, um, they are in relation to. Uh, they have many lines, uh, 1, 2, 3, 4, and about two, five over in, um, Wisconsin. So, um, they are an oil refinery. Uh, they are Husky is a refinery oil, um, placement or oil extraction is their jam.

And again, foreign companies coming into domestic territory that have, uh, Did not respond to or respect treaty law. And that's another kind of an offshoot of the issue that is Enbridge or KXL or dapple is that these are all entities that have defied treaty land on, on reservations across the United States, so-called United States.

And that did not listen to the indigenous when they said. You're digging this line through our burial sites, our grave sites or through cultural lands where we've got artifacts of, you know, um, our ancestors who used to live here, you know, thousands of years ago. Um, and they don't care. They continue to push their will and dig.

And, um, that destroys the tradition that destroys the history of those peoples. Um, all four. Right. So when it comes down to it, you can't eat money and you can't drink oil. Um, and this is all the basis of how the indigenous are impacted by these billion dollar companies that have all the money to fight and to, um, uh, push their will when it comes to these very, very impoverished indigenous communities that don't have, you know, the lawyer backing, they don't have the, um, revenue.

And they're really just hanging on for survival at this point in this country, because there are still a lot of problems within these indigenous communities, um, that haven't been addressed due to colonial genocide. So, uh, in bridges, um, it's kind of an enemy.

Olivia: Thank you so much for that, for that explanation.

You just touched on exactly what I wanted to transition to, which was, um, colonialism and pipelines as modern colonialism. Um, in episode six, with Jerome foster the second, and we talked about pipelines being a modern form of colonialism. Um, but we didn't talk about the other side of that, which is, um, the solution, which.

Or one great solution, which is indigenous sovereignty. Um, and this section of the podcast will be about solutions. I want to make sure we get to talk about what indigenous sovereignty means to you and why it is the solution to, uh, pipelines in the climate crisis more broadly. 

Jaike: So, uh, yeah, like you touched on resource extraction is the current genocide, uh, for indigenous people.

So they may not be, you know, removing us from our lands and, um, telling us we have to go live elsewhere and systematically killing us, murdering us, but they are slowly killing us by taking our resources on the lands that they pushed us to and destroying, um, say water tables and you can't drink out of that water.

You can't, um, you know, eat from poisoned animals, which is again, traditionally how indigenous have lived for so long. So. Solution. Um, we talk a lot about free informed consent in indigenous communities when it comes to these treaties and when it comes to resource extraction, what that means, I mean, it's very blatant in their terms free, meaning that we don't have to pay to sit in on these meetings where, uh, the corporate lawyers and the tribal representatives are meeting to discuss what's going to happen to our future.

Informed meaning that they do not keep anything out, that they very much leave descriptors and all of the legal ease in. And that it's also understandable for most of us who don't understand that jargon. So informed that we know exactly what we're getting into, what they are putting us through and what the outcome will be when it comes down to, you know, that resource being taken and say a pipeline being put in the ground.

Consent means, uh, we have given our approval fully and freely, and we are not hesitating in terms of making sure that everybody's on the same page and in somewhere like the line three fight in Minnesota, that was not the case. We have what we call the Minnesota Chippewa tribe. So that's Anishinaabe territory and under Anishinaabe, there are many different bands.

There's the Chippewa, there's the Ojibway. Um, there are tribes all over the country. All over the state of Minnesota, two out of three of them did not vote for Enbridge to come into their territories and put this line down. Only one did the fond black tribe was essentially, um, coerced into it. Either they allow the line to be placed and they're paid for it, or they don't allow the line and bridge was going to place it anyway, and nobody gets compensation.

So this is what we talk about in terms of solutions for. If there, if the government is going to make these, we're already past that point. Um, and you'll understand as you get older, how much the United States government has, uh, trampled on trees that's that they honor them, you know, that they protect us, that they allow us our safety.

When these entities come in and say, we want to take what you have. And instead of taking it that there's a conversation about it, and we're not forced into a position. Where we're compromised as 

Olivia: Thank you so much. So, um, obviously, you know, everything that indigenous sovereignty means you're not, we can't get to in such a short amount of time, but what I'm hearing you say is first and foremost, yes.

Respecting treaties that have been broken too many times to count. Um, and also on a, and on a, on a very practical level, uh, free, informed consent. That's the first time I've heard that. And, um, another bare minimum thing 

Jaike: We don't, we can't ask for a lot, you know, because even if we did, they wouldn't care. So we're just asking for the basic minimum. At this point, we can't even get. 

Olivia: Right. Um, okay. Thank you so much. 

Zanagee: Yeah. Okay. So we've reached the end of the questions that we have here. Is there anything that we did not ask you, um, about anything today, anything that you want to build on that you wish that we had?

Jaike:  I would point out the man camps that happen along these pipelines. And I, I know to keep this age appropriate, but even I think, you know, we've got some very, very smart, young people out of. That are very caring and concerned and compassionate about what happens in their country. And these man camps, um, are places where these pipeline workers come from other parts of the country for, you know, labor, uh, jobs that pay well, um, men better than, you know, in parts of their con of their, in their parts of the country where, you know, they cannot get a higher paycheck paying wages.

They come out and there's, um, an element of. So we see a lot of indigenous women girls, boys that are trafficked along the pipeline consistently. And this has happened at dapple Keystone.

It's a huge epidemic in, um, indigenous communities. So, uh, keep your eye on MMIWP and that means Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women and People. And if you add the “R” that's relatives that have lost their, their siblings and their wives and, um, brothers, nephews.

Also look into residential schools. I know. I mean, there's a lot when it comes to indigeneity the country that people do not understand.

Residential schools were uh, uh, an epidemic in the early 19 hundreds, late 18 hundreds of the United States government coming in and literally kidnapping indigenous children from their families, taking them to what we call residential.

Or what an indigenous communities we call community, or I'm sorry, a concentration because really children did go there to die. They oftentimes did not come home. And the ones that did leave, um, cause they were kept there all year long. They weren't sent home. Um, they had no contact with their families.

We are still in a state of crisis and we are not part of the dialogue when it comes to. Those bigger discussions about harms about, uh, civil rights and about, um, you know, uh, quality of life for everyone. The last thing I mentioned, even though I could go on. 

Zanagee: Well, thank you so much. Yes. This is all very informative.


Zanagee: That concludes our conversation with Indigenous activist Jaike Spotted Wolf. Which means it’s time for the…..


Zanagee: Okay Olivia, you’re up first. What does it mean when we say someone is “Indigenous”?

Olivia: For Jaike, to be Indigenous means to be someone who is true to the land, a good steward, true to their virtues and true to their morality. Jaike also mentioned the government definition of Indigeneity, which requires proving a certain amount of blood quantum to claim Indigenous status, which nunpa nagi shared is problematic.

Zanagee: That’s right. Great job.

Olivia: Okay Zanagee, question 2: What is a pipeline, and how are pipelines related to fossil fuels?

Zanagee: A pipeline is a big tube that runs from a fossil fuel extraction site to a site of refinery where an oil or gas company turns that natural resource into a product so they can then sell it. Pipelines and fossil fuels are related because pipelines are a major way oil and gas producers transport the fossil fuels they extract.

Olivia: Correct!

Zanagee: Okay Olivia, third and final question: What is Indigenous sovereignty and why is it important?

Olivia: Jaike mentioned respecting treaties and Free, Informed Consent as two key pillars of Indigenous sovereignty. First of all, Indigenous sovereignty gives native people the respect they deserve. Secondly, we discussed some issues with pipelines, including that they often leak and break treaty law, outlined in Article 6 of the constitution. 

Joanna: Article Six of the US constitution reads: “This Constitution, and the Laws of the United States which shall be made in Pursuance thereof; and all Treaties made, or which shall be made, under the Authority of the United States, shall be the supreme Law of the Land.”

Olivia: Respecting treaties and upholding Free, Informed, Consent would provide critical accountability to fossil fuel companies who currently are breaking treaty law and are not held responsible for the ecological damages caused by fossil fuel extraction and transport, including not only climate change, but poor air quality, as discussed in Episode 5 with Kevin J. Patel, and other forms of ecological disruption.

Zanagee: Absolutely Olivia, that really sums it up. And, and that is why it is so important that we think about Indigenous rights in our activism in the way we talk about climate change in talking about extraction and fossil fuels. And so of course, um, this is so key to climate justice and I'm so happy we were able to talk to Jaike about it. 

And that concludes today’s round of the Climate Justice Gameshow! As always, thank you for playing along.


Zanagee: Thank you, listeners, for joining us today. And thanks to Jaike Spotted Wolf for sharing nunpa nagi’s expertise on pipelines and Indigenous sovereignty. You can find more about Jaike’s work by searching Jaike Spotted Wolf– J - A - I - K - E “space” S-P-O-T-T-E-D “space” W-O-L-F on Instagram and Facebook. We’ll also have a link in our show notes.

One Point Five is written by me, Zanagee Artis

Olivia: and me, Olivia Greenspan.

Smart Speaker: With occasional support from me, Joanna, from Natural Readers dot com.

Zanagee: Our show is edited and produced by Cat Petru with help from Matthew Winner and the team at Sound On Studios. Our executive producer is Jelani Memory. And this show was brought to you by A Kids Podcast About.

Olivia: This show is inspired by our book, A Kids Book About Climate Change, and the millions of young people around the world fighting for their right to a livable future. 

Zanagee: You can write to us at listen@akidspodcastabout.com. And check out other podcasts made for kids just like you by visiting akidsco.com