Published February 15, 2017
VATICAN CITY — Pope Francis said Wednesday that indigenous groups must be consulted and give consent before any economic development takes place on their ancestral lands.
While he did not directly mention the Dakota Access pipeline (DAPL), which the Trump administration has endorsed, supporters of the #NoDAPL movement found the Pope Francis’ words reassuring.
“In this regard, the right to prior and informed consent should always prevail,” he said. “Only then is it possible to guarantee peaceful cooperation between governing authorities and indigenous peoples, overcoming confrontation and conflict.”
The comments came as the pope was meeting with representatives of the indigenous peoples attending the U.N. agricultural meeting.
“For governments, this means recognizing that indigenous communities are a part of the population to be appreciated and consulted, and whose full participation should be promoted at the local and national level,” Pope Francis said to the indigenous leaders.
This stance is contrary to President Trump’s who sees economic development, particularly oil production, as being more important the rights of Indigenous peoples, the American Indians, living one-half mile from where the DAPL will be constructed. On January 24, 2017, President Trump signed a presidential memorandum pushing for the approval of the DAPL. Last week, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers reversed its position it took during the Obama administration and issued a permit to the easement that will allow the pipeline to go through Sioux ancestral grounds.
Thousands of American Indians and allies have led opposition to the DAPL since last year.
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