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Can a Tipi Stop a Pipeline? Many American Indians are game to find out. Above, a still from the video compiled by Moccasins on the Ground about Keystone XL resistance.

Can a Tipi Stop a Pipeline? South Dakota Tribes Stand Firm Against Keystone XL


From the Oglala Lakota Sioux on the Pine Ridge Reservation to the Rosebud Sioux and others, American Indians are standing firm against the Keystone XL pipeline, which would run through or skirt their territory if approved.

The Lakota Sioux have been pushing back against TransCanada, the conglomerate that wants to run the 1,700-mile-long pipeline from the oil sands of Alberta to the Gulf Coast of Mexico, for years. Last week the Rosebud Sioux passed a unanimous resolution against the project. And a group of American Indian tribal leaders opposing the pipeline have vowed to take a “last stand” and are working together, training opponents to put up passive resistance if it comes to that.

“We see what the tar sand oil mining is causing in Canada, we see what the oil drilling in the Dakotas is doing—as they gouge her [Mother Nature] and rape her and hurt her, we know it’s all the same ecosystem that we all need to live in,” Lakota activist and Pine Ridge resident Debra White Plume told Inter Press Service News Agency last month. “For us it’s a spiritual stand—it’s our relative, it hurts us.”

The Rosebud Sioux Tribe approved a resolution on February 25 to reject outright a document that the federal government wants the tribe’s leaders to sign saying that they have been adequately consulted according to the law.

“This Programmatic Agreement for the proposed Keystone XL Pipeline project has not met the standards of Section 106 of the National Historic Preservation Act, because the Rosebud Sioux Tribe has not been consulted,” said Council Representative Russell Eagle Bear in a statement from the tribe. “Additionally, the Cultural Surveys that have been conducted already are inadequate and did not cover adequate on-the-ground coverage to verify known culturally sensitive sites and areas.”

Keystone XL would wend its way through the Great Sioux Nation, including the lands of the Rosebud Sioux Tribe, making them the appropriate tribe to be consulted on land within Tripp, Gregory, Lyman, Todd, and Mellette Counties in South Dakota, the statement said.

“This is a flawed document and it will not be accepted,” Rosebud Sioux Tribal Council President Cyril Scott said of the federal agreement they are being asked to sign. “It is our job as the Tribal Council to take action to protect the health and welfare of our people, and this resolution puts the federal government on notice.”


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