Indian Country eagerly anticipates decision in #NoDAPL lawsuit


Whitney Two Bulls came to the #NoDAPL rally in Washington, D.C., on August 24, 2016, with a new work by her grandfather, famed cartoonist Marty Two Bulls. Photo by Indianz.Com

UPDATE 2: The Obama administration has put an indefinite halt on the Dakota Access Pipeline.

UPDATE: The judge has ruled against the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe in a 58-page decision issued on Friday afternoon. Chairman Dave Archambault II will be speaking about the decision at the State Capitol in Bismarck, North Dakota, at 3pm Central.

If you're impatient, you can stop reading, but keep ecf.dcd.uscourts.gov/cgi-bin/Opinions.pl?2016 in your bookmarks in case the decision is posted there.

Indian Country is eagerly awaiting a big decision from Washington, D.C.

Judge James E. Boasberg has promised a ruling on Friday that could determine the fate of the $3.8 billion Dakota Access Pipeline. But other than saying the decision will be "lengthy" he has given no indications of what he will do.

Officially, the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe has asked for a preliminary injunction against the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers. During a hearing on Tuesday, Boasberg said he has been "grappling" with a complex issue that will influence how he rules: whether the tribe has been adequately consulted by the federal agency.

With that in mind, Boasberg could grant the tribe's request in its entirely, deny it altogether, or come up with his own solution, which is what he did on Tuesday when the tribe sought an emergency temporary restraining order against the Dakota Access partnership. Really, it's completely up to him and he has broad powers to take action.

In any event, Boasberg has promised the parties they will "get a fuller explanation" of his thinking sometime on Friday.

Regardless of the outcome, the losing party isn't expected to sit back and do nothing. At a hearing on August 24, Boasberg said he will ensure his decision can be taken to the D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals even though the lawsuit itself will not be fully resolved.

On that front, the National Congress of American Indians and the Native American Rights Fund plan to work with the tribe and Earthjustice, the non-profit handling the case, to "develop and coordinate an effective amicus brief strategy" involving Indian Country.

Other than that, it's a game of refresh for those on the internet. Ideally, the court will post Boasberg's decision on ecf.dcd.uscourts.gov/cgi-bin/Opinions.pl?2016 due to the significance of the matter.

Otherwise, anyone with an account on Electronic Case Filing system can access documents in the lawsuit, albeit at a price. For those interested, the case number is "1:16-cv-01534."

But whatever happens, it's not a good idea to call the judge and complain. His chambers received a lot of calls prior to Tuesday's hearing and, while he didn't hold any party responsible, fielding the calls prevents his staff from getting its work -- like finalizing the anticipated decision -- done.

"I appreciate everyone's civility," Boasberg said at the well-attended hearing on Tuesday. "That's why we have open courts."

Chairman Dave Archambault II issued a statement on Thursday urging calm as the #NoDAPL movement awaits the decision. Here it is again, in its entirety:
Thousands of people, from members of the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe, tribes across the nation and First Nations in Canada, to non-Native supporters in the United States and around the world, have stood in solidarity against the harm and destruction caused by the Dakota Access Pipeline. We have stood side by side in peaceful prayer.

The pipeline threatens our sacred lands and the health of 17 million people who rely upon the Missouri River for water. There is a lot at stake with the court decision tomorrow. We call upon all water protectors to greet any decision with peace and order. Even if the outcome of the court’s ruling is not in our favor, we will continue to explore every lawful option and fight against the construction of the pipeline.

Any act of violence hurts our cause and is not welcome here. We invite all supporters to join us in prayer that, ultimately, the right decision—the moral decision—is made to protect our people, our sacred places, our land and our resources.

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