Energy is life – that’s the tagline for one of the videos online promoting the Indigenous Pipeline Council.
In another video, the Sacred Remains Relocation Unit pulls up outside of a church service and proceed to load up what appear to be recently dug up coffins in preparation for a pipeline through the cemetery.
The videos are pranks but the reactions from the people in them are real.
The Indigenous Pipeline Council is the work of comedians and environmental rights activists, Gitz Crazyboy and Tito Ybarra.
Crazyboy is from Alberta and grew up near the oil sands.
Ybarra is from the Red Lake Tribe in Minnesota, in the pathway of Enbridge’s Line 3 pipeline.
“It’s coming through our area, that’s where our wild rice is very important Ojibwe, and our water of course is very important,” says Ybarra.
“For myself, you get surrounded by the voices,” says Crazyboy. “Because it’s all pro pipeline and if you say anything against it being elected official or not, it’s like all these piranha’s come around you. You get pressure from the industry, you get pressure from the people, the city.
“And it’s almost like some of the white folks up there really want that excuse to just get super racial with you.”
The Indigenous Pipeline Council is promoted by The Yes Men, a “culture jamming” activist duo and network of supporters that aim to raise awareness about social and political issues.
So far five satirical videos promoting pipelines through golf courses, cemeteries and schools have been posted on The Yes Men’s YouTube page.
“It was a how do you like it opportunity, fortunately for them it was just a prank and they get to go back to their safety,” says Ybarra.
There is more material that has yet to be released and Crazyboy and Ybarra day they’re sitting down with producers and funders to take the idea to the next level.
The two have teamed with The Yes Men in the past and love using satire to get out their message.
“You can share your views and make your point in a ways that’s not so confrontational. I think if you can make somebody laugh at the things that they do and recognize hey I do act like that, it’s a very humbling thing for somebody to laugh at themselves,” says Ybarra.
Ybarra says he grew up as a class clown but it wasn’t until later in life that he believed in himself enough to do comedy.
“It wasn’t until I was thirty years old that I started telling myself that, yes, I was funny and yes I could be a comedian. Hopefully, it doesn’t take you that long,” he says.
“Hopefully, you start telling yourself that you are good enough and that you do whatever you want at a younger age.”