Standing Rock Sioux Tribe Fights North Dakota Oil Pipeline
Chairman Dave Archambault says it’s simply a matter of time before the Dakota Access pipeline leaks, ruining their way of life forever
KIM BROWN, TRNN: Welcome to the Real News Network. I’m Kim Brown in our Baltimore studios.
Construction has been brought to a halt of a thousand-mile-long pipeline along the Missouri River in North Dakota. The pipeline is supposed to carry crude oil from the Dakotas to Illinois but was met by a strong resistance movement from members of the Native American tribe whose way of life depends on the health of the river. More than two dozen protestors were arrested after they used their bodies to prevent access to part of an area where construction of the pipeline was slated to continue. Many are viewing this as a victory by Native people to assert their rights. However, the developer has filed a lawsuit seeking to block the protestors from accessing the site any further. A district court judge is expected to make a ruling in the coming days.
And to discuss the latest developments we’re joined by Chairman Dave Archambault the second of the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe. He’s served of the leader of his nation for the past 3 years and he’s also a small business owner. He joins us today from North Dakota. Chairman Dave thank you so much for speaking with us.
DAVE ARCHAMBAULT: Thank you for allowing me to talk.
BROWN: Chairman before we get into what the latest developments are can you tell us about your tribe, the Standing Sioux Rock Tribe and its relationship to the land and the resources that are now at risk?
ARCHAMBAULT: Standing Rock is about the size of Connecticut. It has about 2.3 million acres of land. Our nation straddles both the Standing North Dakota and South Dakota. We have a lot of ties to the environment. We know where there are significant sites, historic sites that have meaningful significance to our families. The water is something that’s adjacent the Missouri River. Now it’s a lake. After the flooding in 1958 where it [innovated] most of our precious lands along the river. In order for the federal government to develop hydro power. So we are doing the best we can with what we have and we don’t have much left after all the things that have been implemented on us by the federal, government.
We once had great Sioux Nation Treaty boundaries that was entered into agreement by the big Sioux Nation and the federal government. That was reduced 17 years later to 1868 treaty. Then that was reduced due to the fact that gold was discovered in the Black Hills. Also all too often the federal government reduced our land base and never offered us any protection in doing so. Even though we were the first and rightful owners of all of those lands. Today what you see is Dallas based company, Dallas, Texas based company coming into our territory and ram running a pipeline through without any regards or any sensitivity to the people or culture in that area.
BROWN: And the concern that not only members of your tribe have but protestors, environmentalists, is that this 3.7-billion-dollar pipeline is going to stretch over a thousand miles starting in the Dakotas going all the way to Illinois. The name of the company building this pipeline is called Energy Trading Partners are taking the lead in this but yet some of the biggest names in the oil and gas industry they have a stake in this pipeline. Including Sunoco and Phillips 66. It could carry over 400 thousand barrels of oil or more a day. And your argument is that should this pipeline rupture somehow it would destroy the natural resources, namely the Missouri River that your tribe depends on. Is that accurate?
ARCHAMBAULT: It’s not a matter of should it rupture. It’s a matter of when it ruptures. All of these – – there’s statistics up there that show that pipelines and their [growing] are not safe. They do break. So it’s not a matter of if, it’s a matter of when and who’s going to pay the consequence.
The whole reasoning behind this pipeline is to provide safe efficient transport for crude oil. But in doing so it’s at our cost. When I say this it’s at our cost, the station looks for ways to create energy independence. It looks for ways to create economic development. It creates ways to look for national security. By having this pipeline, they are saying that we won’t depend on OPAC.
Oil prices are dropping. The oil development has slowed to almost a standstill right now. So trying to get this crude oil to market doesn’t make sense to us. In their plannings they put it in a location that if something was to happen, who is most likely going to be effected by it? It’s us. It was an alternative route that went just north of us. Just north of Bismarck, North Dakota the state capitol.
This route was changed because there were some concerns of the people in that community who said we don’t want our state drinking water affected. Those concerns resulted in this route that is just 500 feet from my nation. That’s disheartening. We are people too. And we have been voicing our concerns ever since we learned of it. But it seems like when it comes to Indian country, when an Indian country voices their concerns, it falls on deaf ears.
BROWN: And chairman you and your supporters have been doing a lot more than just voicing your concerns. You’ve been putting your bodies on the line. In fact, the Wall Street Journal is reporting that the company building the Dakota Access Pipeline has been allowed to extend the restraining order against you and some of the other protestors. What brought about this restraining order, Chairman Dave?
ARCHAMBAULT: Any time you stand up for something that you believe in there isn’t a wrong. The company is basically trying to aggravate the situation. They look at all angles to have me get in trouble. And it’s not something that I’ve created or started. This is something that has been building. It didn’t happen overnight. This is something that has built – we had a spirit camp, a sacred stone camp in April.
This was a prayer camp to send prayers to help people understand what is at stake. And that this is our future. Our children’s future. The children are not even here yet. Their future. Our ancestral burial grounds. Our ancestral sites that have significant meaning to us. Those are at stake. Our environment, the plant life, the animal life. All of that is at stake and it’s important to us and we cherish it. We have to stand up to that.
We can’t allow for a corporation from Dallas, Texas who has no sense of reality of what goes on in our nation, around our nation, or in our state. What drives them is money and greed and they’ll do whatever they need to do at all costs. And our nation will be the ones who deal with the residual effects of their actions.
BROWN: There’s been a call to action on part of the protestors. Not a call to arms because you have said that you will defend your land rights and your water rights through peaceful means. But you have been encouraging people to come and join the resistance. To come and join the protests and people have come from quite some distance. Can you describe to us the response that you have seen from those who want to help the Standing Rock Sioux defend their land from this pipeline?
ARCHAMBAULT: I have to clarify something. What I have asked for is support and in that support I said this is what you can do, you can write a letter to support or you can start calling your congress or your representatives. You can try to influence some of the decision makers and also build awareness of the injustices that are continuing to take place. The fact that people are coming is not brought on by me but it’s brought on by a shared belief that these wrongs have to stop.
BROWN: Chairman Dave before we let you go, give us an idea of what is to come? There’s a couple of outstanding court decisions that you are expecting as a result of the lawsuit action to hopefully not allow this pipeline to continue. What are we expecting tomorrow and in the coming days?
ARCHAMBAULT: What I’m asking for is that our nation all the nations that show support regardless of what happens realize that coming together is a powerful thing and it’s a beautiful thing. And we need to celebrate that. The fact that we do have a choice and that is to be in peace and unity be in pray and live life in a good way.
BROWN: The members of the Standing Rock Sioux tribe in North Dakota. They are trying to prevent the completion of construction of an oil pipeline that is stretching over one thousand miles from North Dakota to Illinois carrying over 400 thousand barrels of oil a day. They say that this will negatively impact their way of life and especially damage the natural resources. Particularly the Missouri River. We’ve been speaking with Chairman Dave Archambault. He is the second of the Standing Rock Sioux tribe. We appreciate you joining us today Chairman. Thank you.
ARCHAMBAULT: Thank you.
BROWN: And thank you for watching the Real News Network.
DISCLAIMER: Please note that transcripts for The Real News Network are typed from a
recording of the program. TRNN cannot guarantee their complete accuracy.