Tribal Council Extends Support to Standing Rock Sioux Tribe
Aug 23, 2016
Continues to Raise Awareness on Environmental Injustice in Indian Country
Akwesasne, NY — For the past week; more than 1,500 environmentalists, tribal members and other supporters have made their way to Cannon Ball, North Dakota to show their support for the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe’s opposition to the Dakota Access Pipeline. The most recent supporters to arrive are Saint Regis Mohawk Tribal Chief Ron LaFrance and Sub-Chief Cheryl Jacobs, who made their way to the protest site located just north of the Standing Rock Sioux Reservation on Tuesday, Seskéha/August 23, 2016.
The two members of the Saint Regis Mohawk Tribal Council were tasked with delivering an official Letter of Support and signed copies of Tribal Council Resolution 2016-64 that was signed on Monday, Seskéha/August 22, 2016 in a show of support for the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe. It is the latest effort by the Tribal Council to help raise awareness and prevent blatant acts of environmental injustice from occurring throughout Indian Country.
“We have our own legacy and experiences with environmental contamination to share in hopes of preventing the same from happening to our brothers and sisters of the Standing Rock Sioux,” said Tribal Chief Ron LaFrance.He added, “We take immense responsibility and pride in joining them in their effort to preserve and protect their environment for the benefit of their tribal members, as well as for the future generations and species who cannot speak for themselves.”
On Seskéha/August 10th, construction began on an access corridor for a section of the $3.8 billion Dakota Access Pipeline that is planned to cross under the Missouri River, located just a half-mile upstream of the Standing Rock Sioux Reservation. It is one of the pipeline’s first sections that will transport up to 570,000 barrels of crude oil each day 1,168 miles from the Bakken oil fields in North Dakota, across South Dakota and Iowa, to its final destination in Illinois.
The U.S. Army Corp of Engineers granted a permit for the oil pipeline to cross the Missouri River at the mouth of the Cannonball River, which is the Standing Rock Sioux’s ancestral territory. It is a location where a Mandan village once flourished, who are known to bury their dead within their earth lodges. The pipeline’s route also takes it a short distance from a long-standing eagle nesting ground. Due to the lack of tribal consultation, the Dakota Access Pipeline directly threatens these historical and culturally significant sites of the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe.
“The planned route of the Dakota Access Pipeline was developed in violation of Executive Order 13175, which requires regular and meaningful consultation and collaboration on federal actions that have tribal implications,” stated Tribal Chief Eric Thompson. He also noted, “There is a federal trust responsibility that rests with the U.S. Secretary of the Interior that has not been fully exercised in overseeing the federal government’s relationship with the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe.”
During a Congressional Environmental Roundtable Discussion held on Ohiarí:ha/June 14, 2016 in Washington, DC; Chief Thompson echoed the sentiment of many Tribes in stating there is a clear lack of accountability by the federal government to the environmental concerns of Indian Nations. Failure by the federal government to include Tribes as active participants in development planning is an injustice that only serves to perpetuate the damage to our land, water and air.
Recent oil spills upstream from the Standing Rock Reservation demonstrate the dangers from oil and gas pipelines; such as the Dakota Access; to downstream communities, fish and wildlife: 840,000 gallons of oil was released near Tioga, ND in October, 2013; 51,000 gallons of oil released into the Yellowstone River upstream from Glendive, MT, resulting in the shutdown of the community water system for 6,000 residents in January, 2015; and the release of 100,000,000 gallons of tar sand crude into Michigan’s Kalamazoo River in July, 2010.
“The Standing Rock Sioux and others rely on the waters of the life-giving Missouri River for their continued existence,” noted Tribal Chief Beverly Cook. She also added, “Too many of the health disparities that we face today are directly related to environmental pollutants that can be avoided. The rupture of an oil pipeline will directly threaten the public health and welfare of not just the Standing Rock, but for the millions of people downstream that depend upon it for their sustenance and livelihood.”
The Saint Regis Mohawk Tribal Council will be scheduling more meetings with members of Congress to raise awareness and to work cooperatively in addressing the impacts that industrial development has on tribal lands. In the meantime, they are pleased that support continues to grow for the Standing Rock Sioux’s opposition to the Dakota Access Pipeline and are encouraged by a federal judge’s ruling to halt construction until a federal court hearing on Seskéha/August 24th in Washington, DC. Tribal Chiefs Thompson and Cook will further show the Tribe’s support by attending the federal hearing.
As the pipeline lawsuits make their way through the judicial system, the Tribal Council is encouraging protestors to please honor the wishes of Standing Rock Sioux Chairman Dave Archambault II by only engaging in peaceful, non-violent opposition to the Dakota Access Pipeline.
TRIBAL COUNCIL RESOLUTION 2016-64:
LETTER OF SUPPORT TO STANDING ROCK SIOUX TRIBE:
The Saint Regis Mohawk Tribal Council is the duly elected and federally recognized government of the Saint Regis Mohawk People.