Dear Governor Cuomo,
Yesterday President Trump finalized a horrendous bill that opens up the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge, one of America’s most pristine and awe inspiring landscapes, to the highest bidder — it was a shocking deal of tax breaks for the wealthy and huge subsidies for the oil and gas industry which will cause untold devastation to one of the most sacred places of the Gwich’in Nation, whose way of life and very existence are now threatened.
But, in the face of this unimaginable new reality, you, Governor Cuomo, did something yesterday that gave us hope. Yesterday you announced that New York State is divesting its pension funds, worth over $200 billion, from fossil fuels. You have lived up to the New York state motto Excelsior, Ever Upward, and like the eagle, you have lifted New York above the unfettered greed and corrupt oil and gas executives destroying our nation and planet.
Yesterday, Governor Cuomo, you did something extraordinary. Today I am writing to you to ask you to do something equally extraordinary: please stop the construction of Millennium’s Valley Lateral Pipeline and the giant methane plant it will feed. Because even as we celebrate with you Governor, my heart is heavy as I weep for my own community and the destruction that seems to have no end.
Here in New York, we face the same interests that are selling off our own wilderness, wetlands, and sacred sites to the highest bidder. Right now, even as we salute your leadership, the Millennium Pipeline Company has ignored the objections of New York State and is forcing a federally approved fracked gas pipeline and a toxic methane gas plant onto my home place in Orange County, New York.
I am a Ramapough Lenape woman, a Native American woman whose ancestors have lived in Orange County and the surrounding areas for thousands of years. I am the Deer Clan Chief of my people and I feel compelled to write to you to tell you what I felt as I visited the construction site of the Millennium’s pipeline project, seven miles from my own home, where there is a federally protected bald eagle nest only 80 feet from the chainsaws and heavy machinery.
I have been watching these eagles soar through the forests around my house for many months. As Native Americans, we honor the great majestic eagle. For us she represents the connection to Creator. Her medicine is the power of the Great Spirit. As the eagle soars, she watches Mother Earth but always remains connected to the Spirit realms, keeping a balance between the two.
Saturday morning Dec.16th as I walked to where this massive mound of destruction lay and heard the deafening rumbling of the excavator, it was one of the most devastating and heart wrenching sounds I have ever heard. I was literally brought to tears and felt for a moment as if I were watching a party going on at a lynching.
These were my majestic eagles! Our symbol of freedom, justice, and the American way… Federally protected Eagles! That Saturday afternoon, as I sat weeping near the construction site one of these eagles flew straight over where I was sitting, close enough for me to exit my car and pay homage to her. I hear her call for help! I hear her asking me to step out in faith and prayer, and so I am writing to you to you to please step in and let these federally protected Eagles, one of only 323 pairs in all of New York State, return to their nesting grounds.
Traditionally, New York is known as the Eastern Gate of the continent. The East is the place of hope, faith and religion. It is the place where the sun rises and the new day begins. Elders have also called it the place of origin, where everything can be transformed. The stakes could not be higher as we turn to you to walk with us through this time of darkness and transformation.
On this day of the Solstice, the darkest day of the year, I stand with my brothers and sisters of the American Indian Law Alliance, the Center for Earth Ethics, and many others. We wanted to take a moment and express our deepest gratitude for your commitment to walking the path of moral righteousness, even in the face of unimaginable political pressure. Today, we acknowledge the darkness, but celebrate the coming of the light. Today we stand together and celebrate hope.
Please take this next extraordinary step with us and ask the New York State Department of Conservation to halt construction of Millennium’s Valley Lateral Pipeline and protect these majestic eagles.
I pray for you every day Governor… for your leadership and your far-reaching vision. Eagle vision, Governor…. These are your spirit birds too.
With deep appreciation and great respect.
Anushiik, Chief Clara Soaring Hawk Deer Clan ChiefRamapough Lenape
With the support of:Ramapough Lenape NationAmerican Indian Law AllianceCenter For Earth EthicsSchaghticoke First NationsAmerican Indian Community HouseWittenberg Center For Alternative Resources Waterfall Unity AllianceWESPAC Foundation Forum 21 InstituteFranciscan Action Network