NAISA Council Statement on Dakota Access Pipeline

September 11, 2016

The Native American and Indigenous Studies Association (NAISA) expresses its solidarity with the Oceti Sakowin Oyate (Great Sioux Nation), the Standing Rock Sioux, the numerous other Native tribal nations and individuals who have expressed their opposition to the Dakota Access Pipeline (DAPL), and with the brave and stalwart individuals who have put their bodies in the path of bulldozers to halt its construction.

Executive Order 13175, issued by President Clinton on November 6, 2000, requires executive departments and agencies to engage in regular and meaningful consultation and collaboration with tribal national governments when federal policies and actions have implications for tribal nations. President Obama reaffirmed this policy in his Presidential Memorandum on Tribal Consultation of November 5, 2009. In it, he wrote, “History has shown that failure to include the voices of tribal officials in formulating policy affecting their communities has all too often led to undesirable and, at times, devastating and tragic results.” He went on to commit his administration to “complete and consistent implementation” of President Clinton’s executive order. Further, Article 19 of the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples says that “states shall consult and cooperate in good faith with the indigenous peoples concerned through their own representative institutions in order to obtain their free, prior and informed consent before adopting and implementing legislative or administrative measures that may affect them.”

In a clear violation of the above-stated obligations, the Army Corps of Engineers failed to engage in meaningful consultation with the Standing Rock Sioux prior to authorizing DAPL. As a result, sites sacred to the Sioux have already been destroyed. DAPL was originally planned to cross the Missouri River north of Bismarck, North Dakota. Objections by the state and the city about the threat to the municipal water source led to a relocation to the crossing at Oahe Lake adjacent to the Standing Rock and Cheyenne River Reservations. We cannot imagine a clearer example of environmental racism. Yet a rupture of DAPL under or near the Missouri River would not only contaminate the source of the tribes’ water source. It would create an environmental disaster of disastrous proportions to the Mississippi River and into the Gulf of Mexico.

We are heartened that President Obama’s administration has brought a halt to further construction, but that cessation is only temporary. DAPL must be halted permanently to fulfill the federal government’s trust obligation to tribal nations.

The NAISA Council urges all of its members to consider supporting the justified opposition to DAPL and to provide any aid and support that they are able to.