Often industrial agriculture grows GMO crops to feed, not people, but animals who are held in Confined Animal Feeding Operations (CAFOs). The Pew Commission on Industrial Farm Animal Production investigated problems associated with industrial farm animal production operations and recommended CAFOs be phased out within 10 years. The Lake Traverse Reservation located in the Northeastern part of South Dakota has a contained animal feeding operation with 20,000 female cow mothers who were forcefully inseminated and mechanically milked after the birth of their babies who are traumatically separated from their mothers. The long awaited Paris Agreement from the recent COP21 failed to include the carbon contributions of factory farming, and methane specifically, escalating the rate of the planet’s global warming. Many environmental organizations and government agencies who fight global warming nonetheless avoid this politically sensitive contributant that ultimately delays a comprehensive solution to our global climate crisis.
CAFOs cause a purposeless consumption and intentional chemical poisoning of water – and water is a nonrenewable finite resource that is being depleted daily by global warming. Indigenous peoples have a deeply spiritual connection with water, and Indigenous woman are the keepers of the water. The Lakota believe that all life comes from water, and that water is the blood of our Mother Earth. The Kogi believe that water is the amniotic fluid of Mother Earth.
On the Lake Traverse Reservation in South Dakota, the existing dairy CAFO takes 1,000,000 gallons of their largest aquifer’s water daily – depleting their drinking water and their water to grow food – and poisons their remaining water and land. The health impacts are documented – adults and children are sick. We must fight to end this corporate CAFO on Indigenous lands within South Dakota.
Amazingly, the United States Environmental Protection Agency and our existing environmental laws and regulations to protect human health and environment have no authority over the sitting of CAFO facilities. Not surprisingly, CAFOs are commonly situated on or near Indigenous lands and territories and in economically impoverished communities. It is time to raise Indigenous knowledge of multigenerational water stewardship, sovereign water rights by Indigenous peoples, women’s voices, and Indigenous treaty rights to close CAFOs, ban new CAFOs, and stop the expansion of existing CAFOs on Indigenous lands. Indigena is stepping forward to take on this unaddressed issue of CAFOs connection to global warming, and has innovated a strategic partnership for our 2016 CAFO Campaign with the Wodakota Foundation, the Animal Legal Defense Fund, Robert F. Kennedy Jr., and Cowspiracy. Indigena will:
- Convene and chair coalition to address CAFO on currently identified land that is concern to the community
- Develop strategic legal efforts and PR campaigns to close or minimize existing CAFO; reduce expansion; develop draft legislation and teach Indigenous youth to become land stewards and environmental and animal rights activists
- Form a network empowering treaty rights and Earth-based principles to balance water, land, climate and food on perpetual issues rooted in trauma and illness