December 2019
Credit: Rob Wilson
Credit: Rob Wilson
“We envision a world where Indigenous
peoples are centered and guiding the
world to protect the environment for all.”

* * *
At Water Protectors Legal Collective it is our belief that Indigenous peoples have a unique and profoundly important role in our unfolding climate emergency. This vision is in part a result of the inspiration we draw from the transformative experiences that some of us glimpsed and others of us lived at the NoDAPL resistance camps at Standing Rock. Recently, we moved our offices to Albuquerque, New Mexico, to be more centrally located to Indigenous-led efforts to oppose deadly resource extraction. 

As an Indigenous-led legal organization, WPLC plays a unique role in supporting and defending Indigenous-led efforts to protect land and water. Read on for updates, and help us continue our work supporting our earth defenders. 
NEWS AND UPDATES  
NoDAPL Criminal Cases
We have defended and supported Water Protectors in over 800 criminal cases, securing dismissals, acquittals or diversion leading to dismissal for more than 600. In fact, the state only obtained 24 convictions at trial. At the state level, we have one open case and 40 water protectors with outstanding state warrants. More  here

NoDAPL Political Prisoners
While we wrapped up the majority of our criminal defense work in North Dakota this past spring, we continue to advocate for and support five Indigenous Water Protectors who are in prison or supervised release as a result of harsh federal prosecutions. Red Fawn and Rattler remain behind bars, and Little Feather and the others who were recently released also continue to need support.  Read more here .
Red Fawn, political prisoner.
WPLC’s Vision and Expanded Mission
As we have moved forward, we are grounded in our belief that Indigenous peoples have a unique and profoundly important role to play to stem the tide of the unfolding climate emergency we are living in. This vision is in part a result of the inspiration we draw from the transformative experiences that some of us glimpsed and others of us lived at the NoDAPL resistance camps at Standing Rock.

After receiving requests for assistance from Indigenous-led struggles in multiple regions, we crafted a new mission that gives us a framework for determining our programmatic work.
Water Protector Legal Collective provides legal support, advocacy, and knowledge sharing for Indigenous centered and guided environmental and climate justice movements.

To this end, we recently moved our office to Albuquerque, New Mexico, to be more centrally located to current and brewing Indigenous-led efforts to oppose deadly resource extraction. We also hired new co-directors,  Carl Williams  and  Holly T. Bird .
International Human Rights Work
In May, we brought  Indigenous women to testify  on the repression of Indigenous opposition to extractive industries and the border wall, in a hearing before the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights in Jamaica. Our  reports  submitted to the IACHR, the Office of the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, and most recently to the UN Human Rights Commission for its Universal Periodic Review of the US, expose the tactics and collaboration of the government, state and local police, and extractive industry corporations to stomp out the fire of our movement.
Through this work, in which we are partnering with the Indigenous People’s Law and Policy program (IPLP) at the University of Arizona, we have begun to build links with Indigenous human rights defenders and anti-colonial movements around the world. With your help, we can continue to expand this work and train additional Indigenous lawyers and protectors to advocate in international fora. 

Backwater Bridge Civil Lawsuit
WPLC lawyers continue to seek justice for Water Protectors attacked by law enforcement at Backwater Bridge on November 20, 2016.  Read more .

Fighting DAPL and Keystone Expansion
DAPL is seeking a permit to double the amount of oil flowing through the pipeline, and WPLC, the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe and others are pushing the North Dakota Public Service Commission to deny the permit. At the same time, the Keystone 1 Pipeline has just leaked almost 400,000 gallons of oil in North Dakota, and its parent company TC Energy is trying to get permits to build the Keystone XL pipeline extension in the face of substantial opposition in South Dakota. WPLC is supporting that opposition, and developing training and organizing resources for Indigenous communities fighting pipelines and extraction projects across the country.
From Mexico to Hawaii 
In 2019, we visited two Indigenous communities struggling to protect their land and sovereignty. The militarization of the US-Mexico border region is deeply impacting Indigenous nations daily, while the border wall threatens to cleave through their lands, disturb their burial sites, and make way for fossil fuel pipelines. We are helping provide legal training, advice, and research.
Photo: Michelle Cook 
Across the Pacific, the Native Hawaiian Kia’i (protectors) and Kupuna (elders) have been blocking the access road to their most sacred mountain, Mauna Kea, since July, to prevent construction of a huge telescope on the summit. WPLC staff are  collecting information on illegal checkpoints that the police have set up to deter the Kia’i, issuing over 6,500 tickets. We also provided legal support for action at TMT funder Gordon and Betty Moore Foundation.
As a donor and ally, your critical contributions have changed and made meaningful impacts on the lives of Indigenous human rights defenders in the NoDAPL struggle. Thank you for your help in sustaining and building WPLC’s capacity to continue to serve the human rights of the world’s Indigenous peoples. Please consider Water Protector Legal Collective in your year-end giving plan.

 
In solidarity,
Carl Williams and Holly T. Bird , Co-Directors;
Michelle Cook , Board President, 
Water Protector Legal Collective



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