“It is no accident that most of the remaining natural resources are on indigenous lands. First the white world destroys their own environment, then they come asking for the last pieces of land they have put us on, the Earth we have protected.”
Luis Macas, Quechua (Saraguro), Ecuador

“We have to be honest with you: we will welcome you as a friend to our community but if you still wish to come with bulldozers, long pipes and dynamite to put in our mountains, we will fight until each of us is dead. Our land is ourselves and if you put a gas pipeline in our mother the Yungas Forest you put a pipeline in our bodies. We cannot tolerate this feeling much longer.”
Statement from the Kolla people, Argentina

“We know how to fish; we don’t know how to work in a factory; we can support ourselves without this oil plant.”
Chen Jian Wong, Chi-gu, Taiwan

“In Nigeria, it is cheaper to bury the environmentalists and democrats than the oil pipelines.”
Ledum Mittee, Ogoni, Nigeria

“You may have noticed as you go from village to village, global warming is going to wipe out these villages. For this reason, you see how high we are off of the Bay, and no place to go. It gets even a couple of feet higher, we’re going to be awash.”
Gail Moto, Deering, Alaska

“The greenhouse effect and sea level rise threatens the very heart of our existence.”
Bikenibeu Paeniu, Prime Minister, Tuvalu

“At the same time as our resources are being exploited, our culture is scorned. Our wealth of traditional knowledge is deteriorating, new illnesses are being introduced, new needs are continuously being imposed and poverty not previously known in the region has become widespread. And when we defend ourselves, we are threatened and imprisoned. In the midst of the process to protect our rights … three million acres of Madre de Dios were handed over for exploration to Mobil, Exxon, and Elf.”
Antonio Iviche Quicque, Harakmbut, Peru

“The people say these problems have come here because Chevron has come here, and so it is Chevron that must take care of them. If we’re not satisfied there will be no oil. We have pledged to die.”
Sasoro Hewago, Fasu, Papua New Guinea

“Twenty years ago, PEMEX arrived and invaded our lands. My father owned about 20 acres of land. Today, this land is invaded by PEMEX pipelines, and two highways run through it. We are left with nothing. Money cannot cover the loss of communal lands, of a house, of a life. We arrived before PEMEX. Our documents prove it.”
Statement from the Platano y Cacao community, Mexico

“We, the U’wa have always struggled with the spirits and with darkness to avoid breaking the equilibrium that makes life possible. Today we feel that we’re fighting a large and strong spirit that wants to beat us or force us to submit to a law contrary to that which Sira (God) established and wrote in our hearts, even before there was the sun and moon. When faced with such a thing, we are left with no alternative other than to continue fighting on the side of the sky and earth and spirits or else disappear when the irrationality of the invader violates the most sacred of our laws. We will in no way sell our mother earth, to do that would be to give up our work of collaborating with the spirits to protect the heart of the world, which sustains and gives life to the rest of the universe. It would be to go against our own origins and those of all existence.”
Statement from the U’wa People, Colombia

(originally published by Project Underground and Rainforest Action Network in 1998’s Drilling to the Ends of the Earth)