On April 22nd an alliance of tribal leaders, ranchers and farmers called the “Cowboy Indian Alliance” will ride into Washington DC on horseback. For five days they will set up camp near the White House, performing daily ceremonies and holding events that will send a clear message to President Obama: “reject the Keystone XL pipeline,” and “protect our land, water, and climate.”

On April 26th, you are invited to join frontline leaders organizing the encampment to march together to send our final, powerful statement to President Obama that he must reject Keystone XL and protect our land water and climate.

On April 26th at 11 AM we will meet at the encampment on the National Mall, and march together to present a hand-painted tipi to President Obama. This tipi will represent our hope that he will reject the pipeline, and our promise that we will protect our land and water if he chooses to let the pipeline move forward. Then we will return to the camp for a blessing for everyone working to stop the pipeline.

What: Reject and Protect mass action

Where: Cowboy Indian Alliance encampment, National Mall between 9th and 12th Streets, Washington DC

When: Saturday, April 26th, 11 AM

Reject and Protect is led by the “Cowboy Indian Alliance,” a group of ranchers, landowners, and tribal communities from along the Keystone XL pipeline route. Scroll down for more information about the Alliance.
Organizations like 350.org, the Sierra Club, and many others (see list below) are helping to rally national support for our allies living along the pipeline route.

The full list of endorsing organizations is here.

The Cowboy and Indian Alliance brings together tribal communities with ranchers and farmers living along the Keystone XL pipeline proposed route. Farmers and ranchers know the risk first-hand. They work the land every day. Tribes know the risk first-hand. They protect the sacred water every day. They have united out of love and respect for the land and water on which we all depend.

This is not the first time an Alliance such as this has come together to stop projects that risk our land and water. In the 80s, we came together to protect water and the Black Hills from uranium mining and risky munitions testing. In the American imagination, “cowboys and indians” are still at odds. However, in reality, opposition to the Keystone XL tar sands pipeline has brought communities together like few causes in our history. Tribes, farmers and ranchers are all people of the land, who consider it their duty as stewards to conserve the land and protect the water for future generations.

The camp is a ceremonial space, and so camping is limited to members of the Cowboy Indian Alliance. There will be events throughout the week where the public will be invited, but unless you are specifically told otherwise, we ask you not to camp at the site during the week. All are needed and all are invited for the march on April 26th. There will also be many actions and events during the week, 4/22-4/26, where broader participation is welcomed.

If you part of a Tribe,  live along the proposed route, or the southern-leg of the Keystone XL pipeline and want to join the camp, please email rejectandprotect@gmail.com.

To open the encampment, tribes and ranchers will ride into Washington DC horseback, and ceremonially set up camp near the White House.

The camp will include daily ceremonies and events, like prayers at Secretary Kerry’s home, and visits from key allies also fighting the pipeline.

Everyone is invited to join leaders from frontline communities and support the presentation of the tipi in Washington DC. Transportation resources for this event are being focused on supporting groups who are directly impacted by Keystone XL to attend, so there are no travel funds available to subsidize buses or other travel for other supporters. If you or your community are directly impacted by Keystone XL and would like to attend, please email us at rejectandprotect@gmail.com. We expect to see thousands of people from the Eastern part of the United States at the march on April 26th , but if you can’t make it, stay tuned, there will be many support events planned locally nationwide in the coming weeks. Look out for more details here soon.
There’s a ride board for offering or finding rides to the event on the 26th available here.
Yes. If you can make it to Washington DC the evening before the big event on the 26th, we will be hosting a marshals training and orientation in a local community space. Click here if you can be there the evening before and would like to help out.
The Metro subway system is the best way to get around Washington. You’ll want to buy a SmarTrip fare card (either online or in a Metro station once you’re here) and be sure to stand right, walk left when using the escalators (trust us, the locals are really cool but they’re pretty touchy about this one). SmarTrip fare cards are the most convenient way to use the system and though they cost $5, their fares are cheaper and will save you money after your fifth ride. The city also has an extensive bus system and one of the best bikeshares in the country. We’ll post more about specific Metro stops and bus routes once we have the rally’s exact downtown location.
Canada’s tar sands are the largest industrial development in the world, mining and shipping bitumen, a dense, corrosive form of oil found primarily in Alberta. Because tar sands are not liquid, but rather an asphalt like substance, they require massive amounts of energy, water and toxic chemicals to refine into burnable oil. This makes tar sands oil produce far more carbon pollution and dangerous to land and water.  

Click here for more information about the tar sands.

Keystone XL is a pipeline from Alberta, Canada that would carry 830,000 barrels per day of tar sands oil across Treaty lands and farm land, to the already-build southern leg of Keystone XL, where it will connect with refineries on the Gulf Coast. It’s the largest and nearest completion of any major tar sands transportation project, and the fastest possible way for tar sands to get to overseas markets, making it the key to further development of the tar sands.

Click here for more information about Keystone XL.

Tar sands are destructive at every stage of their lifecycle, from the ravaged boreal forests of Northern Canada to the choked communities in refining corridors across America. But the indigenous communities living closest to the land bear special witness to tar sands destruction. First Nations have spoken out on the toll tar sands have taken on their ancestral lands and the water and wildlife that supports their culture and community. Reject and Protect will provide witness to the destruction and the injustices that are happening in these communities.

“My people are dying,” says George Poitras, a member of the Mikisew Cree First Nation in Fort Chipewyan, Alberta. Communities such as his situated just downstream from the vast toxic moonscape of tar sands development in Alberta, have absorbed some of the worst damage. “The extraction of oil from Canada’s tar sands is having a devastating impact on our indigenous people,” Poitras says. Studies have found levels of mercury, arsenic, lead, and other toxins at elevated levels near the area’s tar sands excavation sites. These chemicals are known carcinogens and cause the types of rare cancers—including cancer of the bile ducts—that are on the rise among members of the Fort Chipewyan community. Statistically, bile duct cancer normally occurs in one out of every 100,000 people. But a study by the Alberta Cancer Board confirmed these cancer rates at Fort Chipewyan are 30 percent higher than average.

Many communities slated for tar sands refining already suffer the disproportionate brunt of industrial pollution and health problems associated with chemical and petroleum refining. Since refineries and heavy industry are often located in low-income communities, these citizens have the fewest resources available to defend their communities against polluters. They pay the high health costs that come as a direct result from exposure to industrial contaminants.

Dr. Stuart Batterman, a professor of Environmental Health Sciences at the University of Michigan School of Public Health, has observed an increase in the number of adult males developing leukemia in the area surrounding tar sands oil refineries. And he believes we are significantly underestimating the number of chemicals used in the refining process. “We need to be proactive and avoid this situation in the first place,” Batterman said, arguing that the key is solving the problem before the cancer develops, not doing damage control after it’s been found.

At the ultimate destination of the Keystone XL pipeline in Port Arthur, Texas, Hilton Kelly, an environmental justice activist and founder and CEO of Community In-power and Development Association Inc., said introducing tar sands oil to an area already saturated with numerous oil refineries and chemical plants would make a bad situation much worse. Kelly said tar sands and Keystone XL would increase emissions of benzene, heavy metals, and volatile organic compounds (VOCs) into the air that residents of Port Arthur breathe every day. “Enough is enough,” Kelly said. “We do not need nor do we want tar sands in our community. It’s time for the onslaught to end.”

Petcoke is a toxic byproduct of tar sand refining — it’s a coal like substance that contains the last burnable bits of carbon after liquid fuels have been refined out. It’s often burned in coal plants, adding yet more carbon pollution to the atmosphere, and is stored in large open piles that blow dangerous dust into surrounding communities. It’s the coal hiding in the tar sands, turning tar sands refineries into the equivalent of coal plants.

Click here to find out more about petcoke.