Pope Francis insisted yesterday that indigenous people must give consent before any economic activity affecting their traditional territory can take place.
Speaking in Spanish, Francis said the need to protect Indigenous territories was “especially clear when planning economic activities which may interfere with indigenous cultures and their ancestral relationship to the Earth”.
His comments were shared with participants at the Indigenous Peoples’ Forum hosted in Rome by the UN’s International Fund for Agricultural Development.
Dene National Chief Bill Erasmus said the Dene Nation fully supports Pope Francis as he clearly provided support for the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples.
“We are pleased that His Holiness is addressing the priority to reconcile the right to development with the protection of Indigenous cultures and territories,” said Erasmus in a press release.
Pope Francis didn’t say the Dakota pipeline dispute by name and the Vatican press office said he was not making a direct reference to it.
However his remarks, including quoting sections of the UN Declaration of Indigenous Rights, is a considerable contrast to the approach of US President Donald Trump, who’s administration is pushing to build the $3.8 billion oil pipeline, which has been legally challenged by both the Cheyenne River and Standing Rock Sioux.