You are currently viewing MEDIA ADVISORY The Yesah Tribunal: Mountain Valley Pipeline & the Rights of Rivers

MEDIA ADVISORY The Yesah Tribunal: Mountain Valley Pipeline & the Rights of Rivers

For Release: May 21, 2024 

Press Contact: Kasey Kinsella, [email protected], (617) 306-6190

Event will be livestreamed from multiple platforms including:

The Yesah Tribunal:  Mountain Valley Pipeline and the Rights of Rivers June 1, 2024

Browns Summit, NC –  From 9am-5pm on Saturday June 1st, 7 Directions of Service, co-sponsored by Movement Rights, the Global Alliance for the Rights of Nature, and the International Rights of Nature Tribunal will host “The Yesah Tribunal: Mountain Valley Pipeline and the Rights of Rivers,” the 12th local tribunal recognized by the International Rights of Nature Tribunal assembly. The Yesah (People’s) Tribunal is being held at the Haw River State Park, to foster an understanding of how the Mountain Valley Pipeline (MVP) is destroying the health of rivers and waterways. The public is invited to attend in person or virtually to witness Rights of Nature laws and frameworks in action, which elevate rivers and ecosystems from being treated as property to rights-bearing entities.

Dr. Crystal Cavalier Keck, convenor of the Tribunal said, “We love our rivers and must protect them as kin. The Mountain Valley Pipeline will carry dangerous and dirty gas across the Appalachian mountains from West Virginia shale fields into North Carolina, contaminating our rivers and ways of life.” Dr. Cavalier is a member of the Occaneechi Band of Saponi Nation and  the co-founder of 7 Directions of Service based in North Carolina. “We not only risk the poisoning of our water, but the constant threat of gas explosions. If the rights of the Dan and Haw Rivers were recognized in law, we would be able to stop MVP.” There are currently two bills in the North Carolina Assembly that would recognize the Rights of these Rivers, HB795 and HB923

Most legal protections for nature are rooted in property rights, protecting corporate profits over the health of human and natural communities. But that is quickly changing. Rights of Nature is now law in dozens of countries, providing legal protections for whole ecosystems.  

“Mainstream culture, law and economic systems see nature as a thing to own, but we can only destroy nature for short-term profit from that colonized perspective,” says Shannon Biggs, co-founder of the Indigenous and women-led Rights of Nature organization, Movement Rights, who also serves as the co-secretariat of the Yesah Tribunal. “To protect humanity for future generations we must acknowledge what Indigenous people have always known—that Earth is a living system of which humans are a part.”

“As President of the first Indigenous-led tribunal in the world, I am honored to be called to uphold the Natural Laws and original lifeways of Nature,” says Ponca Environmental Ambassador Casey Camp Horineck, who led her Oklahoma tribe to be the first in the US to recognize Rights of Nature and Climate Rights and will service as the President of the Yesah Tribunal. “This groundbreaking tribunal promises to bring deep understanding to the recognition of the Rights of Nature and the Rights of Rivers, the fastest growing environmental movement on Mother Earth.”

WHAT: The Yesah Tribunal: Mountain Valley Pipeline and the Rights of Rivers

WHEN: Saturday June 1 from 9am-5pm

WHERE: Haw River State Park Main Lodge/Conference Center, 339 Conference Center Dr, Browns Summit, NC 27214

LIVESTREAM:  Youtube –  Facebook –

WHO: 7 Directions of Service, co-sponsored by Movement Rights, the Global Alliance for the Rights of Nature and the International Rights of Nature Tribunal. 

    • President of the Tribunal – Casey Camp Horinek, Nation: Ponca
    • Judge – Hartman Deetz, Nation: Mashpee Wampanoag
    • Judge – La’Meshia Whittington Nation: Apalwahči Mvskoke, Afro-Indigenous
    • Judge – Patrick Suarez, Nation: Meherrin 
    • Judge – Heather Milton-Lightening, Nation: Cree, Ojibwe, Blackfoot and Dakota
    • Secretary General – Nati Greene, International Tribunal on the Rights of Nature
    • Co-Secretariat – Shannon Biggs, Movement Rights
    • Earth Prosecutor – Pamela Martin
    • Case Presenter – Dr. Crystal Cavalier-Keck, Nation: Occaneechi Band of the Saponi 

WHY: The tribunal is to hold polluters accountable for their violations of human and nature’s rights, destruction and desecration of sacred sites, mountains, and rivers, and provide clean-up costs for all impacted residents and ecosystems of West Virginia, Virginia, and North Carolina. 

5/31/24 Yesah Tribunal Press Conference

Case Presenter Dr. Crystal Cavalier-Keck and key tribunal participants (see above) invite members of the press for a preview of the tribunal’s proceedings, to ask questions and gain greater understanding of the Indigenous-led Rights of Nature movement.


Casey Camp Horinek (center) of Movement Rights with Ponca Pa’thata Women’s Scalp Dance Society


7 Directions of Service (7DS) is an Indigenous-led environmental justice and community organizing collective based on Occaneechi-Saponi homelands in rural North Carolina dedicated to stopping methane fracked gas infrastructure buildouts, advocating for legal Rights of Nature and developing a land, language and cultural center based on traditional Yesah teachings. We carry a responsibility to be a strong voice for the lands, waters, and more-than-human world.

Featured image at top: 7 Directions of Service co-founders Dr. Crystal Cavalier-Keck and Jason Keck on the banks of the Dan River, the largest water body threatened by MVP Southgate and other pipeline proposals, during the 2024 Water Walk.