MTO Sponsors Water at Risk: A Tribal Leaders’ Perspective

The Metropolitan Tenants Organization is co-sponsoring “Water at Risk”, a program highlighting the Standing Rock Sioux and Menominee Tribes’ campaigns to protect their tribes’ water resources. Several people have asked why would MTO, a housing organization, sponsor an event like this.  There are four basic reasons for our support.

First, as a social justice organization, MTO believes that it is essential to stand in solidarity with other groups and peoples demanding their rights. The Standing Rock Sioux and Menominee Tribes are in a major political battle to defend their sovereignty and water rights. Their demands are just.  When we stand in support of community struggles, we learn from and create bonds between groups and peoples and build power through unity.

Second, the underlying values of our struggles are similar in that each calls into question who gets to determine what gets built on tribal or community land. In one case, we have corporate interests taking the Standing Rock Sioux’s land to build a pipeline. In Chicago and other cities, developers take over land to build apartments, condos, etc.  and displace the residents.  Whether it is the tribes demanding control over their land or communities demanding a voice in development, we are working for self-determination.

Third, both are a struggle for human rights. In the same way that we need water to survive, people need housing to survive. Fighting for human rights has at its core the demand for justice and inclusion. MTO’s mission is one of justice and inclusion.

Finally, the struggle at Standing Rock is about people taking action. The encampment at Standing Rock is an inspiration for all and suggests a path forward. Thousands of people came to support the Standing Rock Sioux and to nonviolently confront through prayer and action the illegitimate construction of an oil pipeline which endangers the major source water for the tribe. 

MTO hopes to see you at these important events. Two programs are scheduled for August 17. The first at Lincoln Hall at Northwestern University starting at 8 am. The second is at the American Indian Center, 3401 W. Ainsley, starting a 7 pm. Featured Speakers are: Standing Rock Sioux Tribal Chairman David Archambault and Menominee Tribal Chairman Gary Besaw.  

In Solidarity,

The Metropolitan Tenants Organization