Daily Egyptian

Authorities to temporarily halt pipeline construction near lake sacred to Sioux

Nantinki+Young+%E2%80%94+known+as+Tink+%E2%80%94+stirs+large+pot+of+soup+for+protesters+gathered+along+the+banks+of+the+Cannonball+River+in+North+Dakota.+%28William+Yardley%2FLos+Angeles+Times%2FTNS%29
Nantinki Young — known as Tink — stirs large pot of soup for protesters gathered along the banks of the Cannonball River in North Dakota. (William Yardley/Los Angeles Times/TNS)

Nantinki Young — known as Tink — stirs large pot of soup for protesters gathered along the banks of the Cannonball River in North Dakota. (William Yardley/Los Angeles Times/TNS)

TNS

TNS

Nantinki Young — known as Tink — stirs large pot of soup for protesters gathered along the banks of the Cannonball River in North Dakota. (William Yardley/Los Angeles Times/TNS)

By Nigel Duara | Los Angeles Times

CANNON BALL, N.D. — A federal judge on Friday refused to continue blocking permits for a controversial pipeline across Native American land in North Dakota, the scene of a tense standoff that has attracted hundreds of tribes from across the country.

U.S. District Judge James E. Boasberg in Washington, D.C., denied a preliminary injunction that would have extended his earlier order halting waterway permits for the Dakota Access Pipeline, designed to transport more than 400,000 barrels a day of crude oil from the Bakken oil fields across South Dakota to Illinois.

The Standing Rock Sioux tribe contends that the pipeline, which is set to run within half a mile of its reservation on the border of North Dakota and South Dakota, would damage or destroy cultural sites that have been important to the tribe for generations.

Advertisement

Of particular significance is an area that once was the confluence of the Missouri and Cannonball rivers, a site the Sioux have long considered sacred — though the original location is now submerged behind a dam.

The Sioux continue to use the banks of the river for spiritual ceremonies, and a manufactured lake behind the dam, Lake Oahe, plays an important role in the tribe’s daily life.

The 1,172-mile pipeline, a crucial outlet for marketing North Dakota crude, would cross the Missouri River under the lake.

Boasberg concluded that the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers likely complied with the federal law governing protection of historical sites, and the tribe is not likely to suffer any irreparable injury by allowing permits to be issued while further reviews are undertaken.

“Lake Oahe is of undeniable importance to the tribe, and the general area is demonstrably home to important cultural resources,” the judge said in his opinion. But he said the tribe failed to show that work on the pipeline “is likely to cause damage.”

Clyde Bellecourt, 80, who helped found the American Indian Movement in the 1960s, said he sees "fresh energy" among younger Native Americans fighting to stop the Dakota Access pipeline. (William Yardley/Los Angeles Times/TNS)

TNS
Clyde Bellecourt, 80, who helped found the American Indian Movement in the 1960s, said he sees “fresh energy” among younger Native Americans fighting to stop the Dakota Access pipeline. (William Yardley/Los Angeles Times/TNS)

Most of the sites identified by the tribe are located “away” from the construction sites, the judge said.

Still, federal authorities on Friday afternoon said they would not authorize construction on the pipeline to proceed near or under Lake Oahe until they undertake additional reviews.

“Construction of the pipeline on Army Corps land bordering or under Lake Oahe will not go forward at this time,” said a statement from the Corps of Engineers, the Justice Department and the Department of the Interior.

The officials said they also would be asking the pipeline company to voluntarily pause all construction within 20 miles of the lake pending the review, which they pledged would be conducted “expeditiously.”

Fears in the encampment centered on the potential police and security response after Boasberg’s ruling. On Sept. 3, protesters clashed with as-yet-unidentified members of a private security force working for Dakota Access.

The North Dakota Private Investigation and Security Board told the Los Angeles Times on Friday that it is launching an investigation into the security personnel at the site of the protest to determine whether they were licensed to operate in North Dakota.

At the scene of the protest, where at least 300 remained on site, demonstrators huddled after the ruling to discuss their next steps.

One of them, Jeff Chavis, who has been at the camp for a month, said he was distraught that the judge did not support the tribes’ legal bid and compared it to allowing a member of his family to be harmed.

“If their mother were being raped in front of them, how would anybody feel about that?” Chavis said. “We’re not going to let this pipeline in. They’ve been told.”

Lynne Hunter, a schoolteacher from Winfield, Kan., said she opposed the Keystone XL pipeline through her state and was proud of the Standing Rock tribe for working to prevent another pipeline.

“It is unbelievable what [the pipeline developer] is doing,” Hunter said. “I don’t even know anything about Indians, but it’s just wrong.”

Protesters trained in nonviolent resistance, including members of Greenpeace, had been preparing in case of a clash with authorities, including members of the National Guard, called on alert this week in case of trouble.

“My hope is that will not happen,” Tom Bloodgood, a camp spokesman, said before the court ruling. He added that any violence would be “under Obama’s watch.”

Tech Big Crow, 18, cares for Blue, one of the horses he and others have brought to the protest site, at the confluence of the Cannonball and Missouri rivers in North Dakota. (William Yardley/Los Angeles Times/TNS)

TNS
Tech Big Crow, 18, cares for Blue, one of the horses he and others have brought to the protest site, at the confluence of the Cannonball and Missouri rivers in North Dakota. (William Yardley/Los Angeles Times/TNS)

The protest camp busied itself on a cool and clear Friday morning amid the smell of cook fires, cigarettes and horses. Hundreds of tents filled a small valley along the confluence of the Missouri and Cannonball rivers.

In every direction surrounding the protest encampment, bales of late-summer green hay dried into yellow straw along rich, hilly pastureland dotted by lakes and ponds.

A checkpoint north of the encampment divided the closest major city, Bismarck, N.D., from the tiny hamlet of Cannon Ball. At the checkpoints, members of the North Dakota National Guard armed with rifles questioned drivers about their destinations.

The National Guard declared Thursday that it would serve in only an “administrative” capacity, but acknowledged that its troops could be called to assist law enforcement at the encampment.

___

(c)2016 Los Angeles Times

Visit the Los Angeles Times at www.latimes.com

Distributed by Tribune Content Agency, LLC.

Advertisement

2 Comments

2 Responses to “Authorities to temporarily halt pipeline construction near lake sacred to Sioux”

  1. Nelda Heathim Standing with the Standing on September 20th, 2016 1:17 am

    I’m standing with the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe against the oil pipeline. Water is life, and it’s better to be safe than sorry. I am a very concerned citizen of this country.

  2. Midnight Rider on September 20th, 2016 2:34 am

    I’m glad the Native Americans are taking a stand against the government. It’s time for ALL Americans to stand together and get the corruption out of politics, put the crooks in prison and prosecute obama, the clintons, and every other politician that’s put money in his/her pocket making illegal deals, allowing illegal immigration, and supporting, aiding and abetting terrorism in this country.
    This false government must be torn apart, burned, and rebuilt from the ground up according to the original Constitution. Stop the pipeline!

If you want a picture to show with your comment, go get a gravatar.




The student news site of Southern Illinois University