Democrats host forum on Dakota Access Pipeline on Capitol Hill


Chairman Dave Archambault II of the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe, right, with Tim Coulter (Citizen Band Potawatomi), the executive director of the Indian Law Resource Center, at the United Nations Human Rights Council in Geneva, Switzerland, on September 20, 2016. Photo by Indian Law Resource Center

With Republican lawmakers continuing to ignore the growing #NoDAPL movement, Democrats on Capitol Hill are taking matters into their own hands.

The Democrats on the House Committee on Natural Resources are hosting a forum on Capitol Hill on Thursday to look into the controversial Dakota Access Pipeline. They have invited tribal leaders and youth to discuss their efforts to protect sacred sites and cultural resources.

“As Lakota people we know we have to protect our water for the sake of future generations, our children and children everywhere," said Harold Frazier, the chairman of the Cheyenne River Sioux Tribe, who will be among those testifying at the forum.

"We have seen how other communities have been shattered when the government fails to protect their water– the Navajo Nation downstream from the Gold King Mine leak and the little children of Flint, Michigan whose water was full of lead, not to mention the devastating impacts that result from oil spills and pipeline leaks all over this nation," Frazier said.

Rep. Raúl M. Grijalva (D-Arizona), the top Democrat on the House Natural Resources Committee, went to the #NoDAPL encampment earlier this month to see the struggle first-hand. Rep. Raul Ruiz (D-California), the top Democrat on the House Subcommittee on Indian, Insular and Alaska Native Affairs, also visited the site, where thousands have gathered to resist the pipeline.

Ranking Member Raul M. Grijalva and Congressman Raul Ruiz, MD are hosting a forum tomorrow at 1:30 p.m. in Washington,...

Posted by House Committee on Natural Resources: Democrats on Wednesday, September 21, 2016

House Committee on Natural Resources: Democrats on Facebook: Taking a Stand: Protecting Water and Native American Sacred Sites and Cultural Resources at Standing Rock

Grijalva and Ruiz have asked their Republican counterparts to convene a hearing on issues facing tribes and infrastructure projects but one hasn't been scheduled. The Senate Committee on Indian Affairs hasn't taken interest either.

In contrast, both committees -- which are led by Republicans -- called a slew of hearings into the Gold King Mine disaster and repeatedly criticized the Obama administration's handling of the spill that polluted the waters on three reservations in the Southwest.

With energy production representing a key part of their agenda, Republican lawmakers are extremely unwilling to talk about the Dakota Access Pipeline in a negative fashion. Rep. Kevin Cramer (R-North Dakota) has issued three statements, one on September 9, a second on September 15 and another on September 16, that have focused on the #NoDAPL resisters' presence in his state but not on their actual concerns about the project.

Sen. John Hoeven (R-North Dakota), who serves on the Committee on Indian Affairs, also issued a statement about the #NoDAPL encampment and joined Cramer in calling for more federal law enforcement at the site even though the overwhelming majority of the thousands of resisters and supporters have been lawful.

Sen. Heidi Heitkamp (D-North Dakota), another Indian Affairs member, is in another category altogether. Unlike fellow Democrats who have expressed solidarity with the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe since Congress returned to session earlier this month, she hasn't mentioned #NoDAPL concerns at all publicly.

Instead, she joined the request for more federal resources and condemned "anonymous" threats against law enforcement in her state.

And while Heitkamp frequently champions the Obama administration's Indian policy, her September 9 statement completely glossed over the unprecedented and historic nature of the intervention that has put a key portion of the pipeline on hold pending further review of the tribe's concerns.

Thursday's forum -- titled "Taking a Stand: Protecting Water and Native American Sacred Sites and Cultural Resources at Standing Rock" -- takes place at 1:30pm Eastern in Room 210 of the Cannon House Office Building. It will be streamed live at bit.ly/2ddJTOs

Tribal witnesses who have been invited to testify include:
• The Honorable Dave Archambault II, Chairman, Standing Rock Sioux Tribe
• The Honorable Harold Frazier, Chairman, Cheyenne River Sioux Tribe
• The Honorable Faith Spotted Eagle, Ihanktonwan Oyate Spiritual Leader and Elder
• The Honorable Wendsler Nosie, Councilman, Apache Stronghold
• The Honorable Gracey Claymore, Member, Standing Rock Youth Council

D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals #NoDAPL Injunction:
Order: Standing Rock Sioux Tribe v. U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (September 16, 2016)

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