Native Sun News: Death highlights dangers of Dakota Access Pipeline work

The Lummi Nation sent a totem pole to the #NoDAPL encampment in North Dakota. Photo from Our Shared Responsibility: A Totem Pole Journey

Pipeline worker’s death emphasizes tribes’ movement to halt construction
By Talli Nauman
Native Sun News
Health & Environment Editor

FORT YATES, N.D. –– When a worker was killed in the construction of the Dakota Access Pipeline on Aug. 26, the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe, headquartered here, declared a state of emergency to emphasize tribal opposition to the hazardous private infrastructure project.

The man, whose name was not released by authorities at press time, was found by his foreman after suffering head injuries while working alone on a tractor Aug. 25, and he died in a Minot, N.D. hospital, according to The Associated Press. [Ed. Note: The man has since been identified as Nicholas Jay Janesich of Minnesota. He was 27.]

He was employed by a subcontractor for Energy Transfer Partners, which, together with Phillips 66 and Enbridge Corp., is trying to build a nearly 1,200-mile crude-oil pipeline through 1851 and 1868 Fort Laramie Treaty territory.

“Within our sovereign authority, the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe declared a state of emergency to address the serious nature of the situation,” Tribal Chair David Archambault II said.

At the time, tribal officials and supporters were returning home from a trip to the U.S. Capital for an Aug. 24 federal court hearing on the tribe’s petition for an injunction to halt construction.

A judge set Sept. 9 as the deadline for a ruling. Meanwhile, the testimony at the hearing revealed the inaccuracy of company reports that the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers has issued an easement to build the line across the Missouri River and its tributaries.

“Since Dakota Access does not have an easement from the United States Army Corps of Engineers, the tribe will be continuing our advocacy with the Obama Administration to oppose the granting of that easement,” Archambault said.

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