With Few Exceptions Towns & Tribes around Minnesota Stand With Standing Rock
Tribes and communities around Minnesota are pledging their support for the Standing Rock Sioux tribe in North Dakota. The tribe is continuing its work to stop the Dakota Access Pipeline from crossing waterways and sacred sites in the region. Melissa Townsend has the story.
The Dakota Access Pipeline would carry up to 570,000 barrels of oil a day from the Bakken through North and South Dakota, Iowa and into Illinois. The Sanding Rock Sioux Tribe opposes the pipeline because it endangers the water system, land and sites that are historically significant to the tribe.
In April about a dozen people set up the Camp of the Sacred Stone a few miles from the Standing Rock Sioux Reservation where the pipeline would cross the Missouri River. When the Army Corps of Engineers granted the final permits in July, people from around the country poured into the camp.
Barry Frantum is a Lakota teacher living in St. Paul. He’s been back and forth to the camp a number of times this summer.
FRANTUM: There isn’t anyone in the American Indian community that doesn’t know this is going on right now. So this is a big deal, this is a huge deal.
Estimates are 2 to 4-thousand people are gathered there now.
Simone Senogles works with the Indigenous Environmental Network, a Native led group based in Bemidji, Minnesota. The group has been working with the Standing Rock tribe and Simone spent time at the camp this summer.
SENOGLES:The overall feeling is one of peacefulness and prayer, and there are you know family groups that were camping tougher. There were campfires and singing.
The Standing Rock Tribe is getting support from around the world. Pictures and messages from California, New York, France and New Zealand pop up on Facebook and twitter with #nodapl. The head of the United Nations Permanent Forum on Indigenous Issues is calling on the U.S. to have better consultation with Standing Rock. The UCC and Presbyterian churches have pledged their support. And tribes from around the country are also on board.
Here, the Minnesota Indian Affairs Council sent a letter to President Obama and the Army Corps of Engineers supporting Standing Rock. The letter states the Army Corps of Engineers did not fully satisfy the National Preservation Act, The National Environmental Protect Act, the Rivers and Harbors Act and the federal responsibility to consult on a government to government basis with the Standing Rock Tribe.
In addition to the letter, the four federally recognized Dakota communities in Minnesota recently passed a joint resolution standing with Standing Rock. Six of the seven Ojibwe tribes in the state have passed similar resolutions. The Red Lake Nation plans to pass theirs on September 13th.
Some Natives feel the direct action, confrontational approach is the wrong way to go. Standing Rock supporter Barry Frantum says knee-jerk confrontation is a bad idea, but that’s not what’s happening here.
FRANTUM: Sometimes the direct action has the consensus of the day or the hour and sometimes a more peaceful, prayerful approach. It’s still done through conversation and it’s thoughtful.
A number of communities in Minnesota have also passed resolutions. Among them, Minneapolis and St. Paul City councils declared their support for the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe. Although in St. Paul, Mayor Chris Coleman refused to sign the resolution. A statement from his office says he felt there was quote - not sufficient opportunity for community discussion.
Frantum is disappointed with Coleman’s response. And he is calling on more Minnesota’s elected officials to support Standing Rock and the clean water they are fighting for.
FRANTUM: We will be taking this to the ballot box. And we get kind of counted out because we are such a small population but in tight races, we are swing vote and we are gong to vote on this issue.
As of September 7th, not one Minnesota Congressmen or Senator has addressed the situation in Standing Rock.