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Water Protectors Confront Japanese Banks

SNA (Tokyo) — The campaign against the Dakota Access Pipeline launched in December 2016 by a handful of Japanese activists entered a new round of activity this month when two Native Americans, who are Standing Rock Water Protectors, visited Japan, aiming at grassroots alliance-building with international indigenous groups.

Myron Dewey and William Patrick Kincaid, along with several of their Japanese supporters, held a meeting with representatives of the Mitsubishi UFJ Financial Group (MUFG) on May 28 at the company’s headquarters building in the Marunouchi district of Tokyo.

The purpose of the meeting was to point out that the bank’s investment in the Dakota Access Pipeline is contributing to human rights violations, and that it violates the tenets of corporate social responsibility that MUFG purports to uphold.

When contacted by the SNA and asked for a statement about the meeting, a MUFG spokesperson offered the following comment:

Although we will withhold responses regarding individual projects, MUFG strives to operate with social and environmental responsibility, in accordance with the “MUFG Environmental Directive,” the “MUFG Human Rights Directive,” and the “MUFG Environmental and Social Policy Framework.”

Mizuho Bank and the Sumitomo-Mitsui Banking Corporation have also invested in the Dakota Access Pipeline.

For their part, Dewey and Kincaid spoke to the SNA immediately after the meeting as they were leaving the building. The following is a transcript of their comments in the video above.


Myron Dewey: My name is Myron Dewey. I’m a professor, youth media trainer. I work with violence against women, and I’m also here to share the story of the missing indigenous women that are going on from these Man Camps [camps of male workers who build the pipelines] and these pipelines which these banks normally don’t know that they are funding. We’re here to help educate and empower them to invest their money culturally, and spiritually invest it into the community in culturally-appropriate investing.

William Patrick Kincaid: My name is Patrick Kincaid and I come from the Suhtai [Cheyenne] people and the Seven Council Fire Nations which signed a treaty with the United States called the Fort Laramie Treaty. I am here in Japan to see if we can unify with the Japanese citizens and indigenous peoples over here in a coalition to protect our water, globally.

Myron Dewey: I watched [the bank representatives] shift, they were very attentive to the reminder of them, to the men, that we’re born of water and that we drink from the same water. This earth is, we consider, our mother—and if we consider this earth our mother, then we don’t rape her by putting pipelines in the ground and desecrating sacred sites, burial sites, and the natural law by letting our dead rest. I’m hoping that they took it in, and I could feel it at both ends; that they could hear it in our language, in our emotions—that we are passionate about it. I also let them know that I need to take this message back. So we wanted a timeline as well, and we will be following up with that timeline here with our allies here in Japan.

William Patrick Kincaid: Lip-service, really. They did take the time to meet with us—and I think we hit home with them on a few points. With my background being law and science, I wanted to share with them the violations the bank has of their equator principles and their association with the Dakota Access Pipeline, and back that up with hard science. The tar sands oil extraction is the dirtiest—and it doesn’t only just put carbon in the air, it destroys one of the biggest carbon reservoirs on the planet; so my children aren’t the only ones affected, their children are affected as well.

Myron Dewey: What they’re doing wrong is that they’re not honoring their own policies—and that’s what’s important; instead of divesting hard as we did in the United States, which several major cities have divested. [The Japanese] have the same principles we do as indigenous people in protecting the water, they have a close connection with their water, which is our first medicine. As men, we are born into water; we know that were also drinking from the same water on this planet, which is what we consider our mother earth. These same principles that [the bank companies] list in their policies, is was we would like them to hold themselves accountable to those principles and that’s why were here, to share with them as indigenous people. The like-minded thinking is going to help us globally, because we’re on the other side of the planet and we’re here to use share with them the likes and the dislikes, and that this is harming our homelands.

William Patrick Kincaid: I think what we have to realize here is that were starting to see a real division between the corporate individual wealth, and us normal citizens. If the banks want to fund these acts of genocide, we as citizens can unify and divest.

Myron Dewey: The pressure was very emotional, because I’m representing several different categories. When we look at the insects and the animals that can’t speak for themselves that are harmed by these pipelines, the plant-life that does not come back after that—which we need to breathe; the really simple ecology part of it that is just so emotional because we’re connected to the medicine, and we’re connected to the wildlife, and the landscape, and our surroundings. But the women that don’t have a voice, that were raped, that went missing, that were murdered from these Man Camps; I wanted to make sure that I gave a powerful explanation in a language that they didn’t speak, and so I’m hoping that they’ll take the time when we showed them pictures of the human rights violations, the constitutional violations; that has to be heavy for people who didn’t know what was going on to witness that—“Hey, here’s what were investing in, we need to look in to see what we’re investing in.” So again, we just wanted to give them the opportunity and share with them—I’m not here to cause problems for you, I’m here to work with you; and we’re gonna do something different than in the States. Instead of shut you down, we’re gonna say “Let’s honor those policies and procedures that you have listed for the international communities that you are lending money to, and these entrepreneurs—like Energy Transfer and Dakota Access Pipeline—that are committing these human rights violations with your investment.”

William Patrick Kincaid: My message would be to consider what happened with this nuclear spill, and look at your water right now—it’s pristine. I remember just fifteen years ago, my water was pristine too, and thats no longer the case; and it will never be in my lifetime. If the Japanese citizens can learn from that and not allow their banks to fund extraction locally here, they’ll be doing their children and grandchildren a great justice.

Myron Dewey: Around Japan, it’s amazing how water is at the center, and the prayer, and the meals— and that we have so much in common here; and the fish from my tribe were culturally tied to our food source. Let’s stand together. Protect the water, and the Earth. Water protectors and land defenders, in a good way. Pesha u. Thank you.

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