Sep 23, 2016 - Standing Rock Sioux Tribal Chairman’s Statement at the Protecting Native Land and Resources, Rejecting North Dakota Pipeline Forum
“Thank you for taking this time to hear us. It’s really important that we understand where we are coming from as tribes from across this nation. From my perspective, I don’t think it’s the perception that we oppose economic development or we oppose energy independence or we oppose national security. What we oppose is it being done off our backs. For too long, there are too many cases where tribes have been forced to give and continue to give. Today, we pay for the Missouri river, Lake Oahe Hydropower with Western Area Power Association so that this nation gets affordable electricity.
One of the things that we at Standing Rock go off of is one of our leaders of the past was famous, famous for his quotes. If you ever hear of Sitting Bull, if you know who Sitting Bull is… Sitting Bull came from Standing Rock and one the most famous quotes that he has is, “Let’s put our minds together and see what we can build for our children.” So today as this is the topic, something that guides us in our decision-making as leaders: We are putting our minds together so that the kids, the ones not yet born, have something better than what we have today. It’s a constant strive to make sure they have clean water. It’s a constant strive to make sure that sacred places are protected so that they have that when they’re here.
We’ve been in this battle for a couple of years, it’s been ongoing. We were going through litigation with the Corps of Engineers because we felt that we are a sovereign nation and we never had meaningful consultation for a project like this. Another project that is bringing infrastructure through our territory without us having a say. And what’s law is flawed, so we want to make sure that this doesn’t happen. We should have an opportunity in the future no matter what to have a say. The way we’ve been doing that through prayer and peace. I have to share that with you because we’ve got a lot of attention and it seems like attention only comes when there’s negativity.
Attention only comes when the media thinks there’s something worth reporting because it’s negative. But, we’re getting attention because of the positive. We’re doing something positive and we’re doing it in a peaceful way. We have an opportunity for policy change with the three agencies coming together and saying what has been going on, is it necessary? You do have legitimate concerns. We have to stop and look and review what has happened in this permitting process in a project of this magnitude.” That’s good, we welcome that opportunity to say but I just don’t want this to say “OK, this is going to happen no matter what the next pipeline is, we’ll make this change.” We have to make this change with this pipeline and there is a full EIS done.”
I wanted to talk about the treatment that we receive from our own state. There is a state of emergency by the Governor. We have blockades re-routing traffic that’s going to our Nation. We have the National Guard called in. We have low flying planes. We have the Governor contacting the Pentagon to investigate waste, overstepping the district. I need to let you know that this is the treatment that we’re getting and it’s not right. Not only that, we have the Dakota Access Pipeline and the way they treat Standing Rock. Standing Rock had sacred burial sites of our ancestors and they came in and destroyed. It’s not right. They were privvy to information and within the law sometimes things are legal but they’re just wrong. I know this case, it’s just been wrong what the company’s done.
Recently, they purchased the Cannonball Ranch, yesterday the transaction was final, the documents are signed and recorded with the county and the money was transferred. So the owner of the Cannonball Ranch, where we’re demonstrating, what we’re protecting, has now been sold to the pipeline company so it’s really disturbing to me because the intention is all wrong. Without having any further review and without understanding what the process was… it’s not fair. It’s not right and the company is going to try to move forward without any consideration of tribes. I am not asking that you stop this pipeline, I’m asking that you do a full EIS.”
Dave Archambault II, Chairman of the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe