Ore. tribes send support to Standing Rock oil pipeline protest

Jackie Many Hides packed her car last week morning with school supplies, food, water and a flag. Her destination: North Dakota.

The state has become a battleground for tribal rights and environmental activists over the installation of the Dakota Access Pipeline.

The Standing Rock Sioux Tribe has sued the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers arguing that the agency acted illegally by taking a "narrow view" of its responsibilities before approving the pipeline, which is expected to carry 470,000 barrels of crude oil per day from North Dakota to Illinois.

A judge is expected to rule on a preliminary injunction by September 9.

Many Hides volunteered to carry Oregon's Grand Ronde flag to North Dakota to join the Sioux in their protest. The tribe has staged a sit-in on the border of its reservation, which runs along the path of the pipeline.

The protest has garnered national attention and support from tribes from around the country, including several tribes in the Pacific Northwest.

Grand Ronde passed a resolution Aug. 31 supporting the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe.

"I think it's something that's decided personally," said Grand Ronde Tribal Councilman Jack Giffin. "Some people have a lot of concern for other tribes and some think we should take care of our own tribe. I personally think it should be a priority to help."

The Sioux Tribe has asked both tribal members and non-tribal members to contact their congressional  representatives to voice opposition to the pipeline.

"This is another chapter in the long history of the federal government granting the construction of potentially hazardous projects near or through tribal lands, waters, and cultural places without including the tribe," the tribe's website reads. "The current proposed pipeline route crosses under Lake Oahe, just a half mile up from the Standing Rock Sioux Reservation."

Tribes from more than 20 states have sent letters and resolutions of support including Washington, Montana, South Dakota and Nevada. Support has also come from tribes in Quebec, British Columbia and Puerto Rico.

At least three tribes from Oregon have sent letters and supplies to North Dakota including the Siletz and Burns-Paiute tribes.

"The peaceful protest of the Dakota Pipeline by tribal people has been met by the incarceration of tribal leaders, blockage of services and inability to access needed services," Burns-Paiute Council Chair Charlotte Rodrique wrote in the tribe's letter of support. "This is certainly in contrast to how the armed militia that overtook the Malheur Wildlife last winter was treated. They were allowed to come and go as they wanted, shop at local stores, deface federal buildings and intimidate local people."

More: Oil pipeline protests turn violent

Indian Affairs Acting Assistant Secretary Lawrence Roberts issued a statement in March asking the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers to examine the potential impacts of the pipeline to the reservation. The Department of the Interior currently holds 800,000 acres of land in trust for the Sioux that Roberts said could be effected by an oil leak or spill originating from the pipeline.

Earthjustice, which has an office in Seattle, is representing the Sioux tribe and said the motion for a preliminary injunction requested that construction be halted until a survey of the land can be completed to assess the cultural and heritage resources in the area.

Jan Hasselman, an Earthjustice attorney on the case said, "What’s happening on the ground at Standing Rock is so much bigger than any one lawsuit. Tribes are coming together in a way that hasn't happened in a century. Collectively, they are serving notice on this nation that they have had enough of paying the price for someone else’s prosperity.”

Dakota Access, managing the construction of the pipeline, said on its website that it would take caution around wetland and culturally important sites.

The pipeline is expected to generate 800-12,000 local jobs and $129 million in annual property and income tax

(© 2016 KGW)


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