Lakota Country Times: Tribes unite to stop Dakota Access Pipeline

Defenders attempt to initiate a dialogue with law enforcement representatives guarding the entrance to the construction site of the Dakota Access Pipeline in North Dakota. Photo courtesy Arlo Iron Cloud

Tribal Nations Unite Against Pipeline: 28 Arrested
By Brandon Ecoffey
Lakota Country Times Editor

PINE RIDGE -- Tribal-nations from across Lakota Country have come together to resist the construction of a new pipeline that planners hope to construct underneath the Missouri River.

For many Lakota, Nakota, and Dakota citizens protecting the first medicine given to them by the creator is a matter of life and death. Since late last week nearly 1,000 water defenders from across the Great Plains have descended upon Cannonball, North Dakota, to stop the construction of the Dakota Access Pipeline.

"The DAPL is planned to cross the Missouri River above the confluence of the Cannonball River, a few steps from the Standing Rock Sioux Reservation in North Dakota," explained Cheyenne River Sioux Tribal President Harold Frazier in a letter to President Obama.

The Dakota Access Pipeline if allowed to be completed would carry 570,000 barrels of crude oil a day across 1,172 miles. The project is just several miles shorter than the now scrapped Keystone XL pipeline. Keystone XL was nixed by President Obama in 2015 after years of delays and what is now seen as a successful resistance by tribal-citizens, ranchers and environmentalists to the project.

"You pledged to work with our Indian nations and tribes on a nation-to-nation basis to address the issues that matter to us every day. You came to the Standing Rock Sioux Reservation in North Dakota, and quoted our great chief, Sitting Bull: 'Let us put our minds together and see what we can do for our children.' With all respect, we ask you to put your mind together with ours and see what we can do to protect our children’s lives and health from poison water," said President Frazier.

On August 8, Dakota Access issued a 48-hour work notice to the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe that work would begin on the project. The issuance of the notice resulted in the mobilization of of both tribal citizens and tribal governments who have made efforts to not only pass resolutions in support of the the resistance but to send both people and supplies to the site. The STST asked a federal court for an injunction to delay the start of the project but the hearing date set to hear their motion was not set to begin until August 24.

"Under the 1868 Sioux Nation Treaty, the Oceti Sakowin of the Lakota, Nakota, Dakota Oyate or Great Sioux Nation reserved as our “permanent” home: All the land from the Cannonball River in the North along the low water mark on the east bank of the Missouri River to the Nebraska Border and west to the Wyoming Border. The Missouri River is wholly within our treaty territory, and over the years, the United States has asked us to cede hundreds of thousands of acres along the Missouri River within our homeland for flood control by the Army Corps of Engineers. Our Sioux Nation tribes use the Missouri River for our drinking water, we have treaty rights to hunt and fish, reserved rights to graze livestock along its banks, and it is our source of water for irrigating crops. Under our Treaty, we own reserved waters in the Missouri River. Yet, the Army Corps turned its back upon our Sioux Nation tribes and plans to approve the DAPL to run oil under the Missouri River without consulting with our tribal governments. Indeed, the Army Corps has not even consulted with the Secretary of the Interior and the Secretary of Agriculture who are our partners in our Missouri River tribal drinking water projects. The Army Corps is violating our treaty rights, statutory rights, and your policy on sustainable Indian nations, President Obama," added President Frazier.

Frazier is one of several leaders from the historical Oceti Sakowin alliance of Lakota, Nakota, and Dakota speaking people who comprise what westerners know as the Great Sioux Nation who have called upon their people to protect water against the likely contamination brought by the construction of crude carrying pipelines.

"I’ve been told and taught that it is our responsibility to stand for our relatives, the ones that crawl, the ones that fly, the ones that burrow, the ones that swim, the ones that flower. Relatives that cannot speak for themselves. Who will speak for them? We have to speak for those who are not here – our ancestors, for those children who are not yet born. Our ancestors left sacred sites for us. We have to speak for them. Children not yet born will not live without water. We have to speak for them," said Standing Rock Sioux Tribal President Dave Archambault, Jr. "Several of our Lakota and Dakota relatives have had visions and dreams. They have been visited in a spiritual sense and have been told that there is a black poisonous snake trying to come among us," he added.

President Archambault was one of twenty-eight, including Dr. Sara Jumping Eagle and members of the band Scatter Their Own, who were arrested for crossing the police line in protest of the project.

The Standing Rock Sioux Reservation sits just several miles from the drilling site that is located just off the reservation on unceded lands that sit within the boundaries of the 1868 Treaty of Ft. Laramie. However, local allies of the Hunkpapa were already expressing their dissatisfaction with the project.

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"The pipeline could potentially damage and destroy sites of great historic, religious and cultural significance as it crosses the ancestral lands of the Great Sioux Nation. The Rosebud Sioux Tribe stands in solidarity with the Hunkpapa, our relatives of the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe in their efforts to protect the land and resources so vital to our people," said Rosebud Sioux Tribal President William Kindle in a letter to President Obama.

The SRST issued a call for action to all indigenous people across the globe on August 15 and according to Steven Sitting Bear, a staffer for President Archambault, within days more thirty organization's had expressed support for the efforts to stop the digging with more coming in everyday.

On Monday, August 15, protestors were successful in temporarily delaying the project as workers for the project did not return on Tuesday. The protests have resulted in a temporary restraining order being issued against protestors but the ruling from a North Dakota judge only prevents people from impeding work, not from gathering lawfully near the site.

Representatives from the Camp of the Sacred Stones, who have vowed to peacefully resist construction, have called for "ALL canoeists, kayaktivists, paddlers, and water warriors to bring their boats and courage" to join other protestors near Cannonball this Saturday in the hopes of further discouraging construction.

(Contact Brandon Ecoffey at

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