Environment | National

Native Sun News: Oglala Sioux arrested in Keystone blockade

The following story was written and reported by Karin Eagle, Native Sun News Staff Writer. All content © Native Sun News.

Unci Marie Randall, Oglala, speaks to the drivers and crew of the Keystone XL Pipeline trucks that she says trespassed on the Pine Ridge Reservation. Photo Courtesy Andrew Iron Shell

WANBLEE, SOUTH DAKOTA –– The controversial Keystone XL Pipeline has been brought straight into Indian country rather than skirting it as the proposed route of the pipeline itself does.

In an effort to stop what they determined to be a trespass on Oglala lands, a large group of protesters set up what they called the Lakota Blockade in Wanblee, along the northern border of the Pine Ridge Reservation. Their protest resulted in the arrest of eight tribal members and supporters.

On Monday, March 5, the Oglala Oyate was called to action by Marie Randall, an activist and elder from the Wanblee community. She reported to the radio station, KILI, that there were two large trucks that were hauling equipment for TransCanada, the company attempting to build the Keystone XL Pipeline.

According to Oglala activist Debra White Plume, papers obtained from the truck drivers stated that each truck weighed 229,155 pounds.

“The truck drivers said they were given their route by their headquarters in Canada,” said White Plume. “The route was worked out with the State of South Dakota, according to the truckers. They said they were told by South Dakota that if they go on the route they did they could avoid paying South Dakota the fee of $50,000 per truck, so they came down Highway 44 through Interior, Potato Creek and Wanblee.”

“Our Black Hills Sioux Nation Treaty Council and the Oglala Sioux Tribe have both passed legislation against the Keystone XL oil pipeline, and have adopted the Mother Earth Accord which calls for a moratorium on the tar sands oil mine as destructive to water, Mother Earth, all animals and human beings.” Stated White Plume, “Whatever these vessels are, where ever they were going, they are too huge and too heavy, too hazardous, to be on our roads.”

The vessels being transported are called treater vessels which are used to separate gas and oil and other elements, and are used to provide intense heat.

There were about 75 people at the blockade. Approximately 20 cars parked in front of the semi-trucks, who were accompanied by about a dozen pickups with flags displaying wide load warnings, etc. Electric trucks were also part of the caravan that is utilized to push up the power lines in their path.

Alex White Plume, Sr., Debra White Plume, Sam Long Black Cat, Andrew Iron Shell, and Terrell Iron Shell were all arrested by the tribal police, handcuffed and charged with disorderly conduct. All were taken to the jail facility in Kyle. All defendants were released from jail soon after booking.

“Sergeant John Mousseaux, told me that the FBI were coming on the reservation to arrest me for kidnapping the truck drivers, but they still haven’t got here,” said Alex White Plume, Sr.

The White Plume family have been very proactive and vocal in their protest against the pipeline. Debra White Plum was arrested at the White House in Washington D.C. in the summer of 2011 during another pipeline protest.

The truck drivers told White Plume and her husband, Alex, Sr. that they did not know they were crossing an Indian reservation, and would let their corporate office in Canada know that this was a route to avoid as there were road blocks set up to stop them.

OST member, Richie Vines, said, “We must listen to our elders. The police arrest their own people, and escort the invaders? That sounds like treason against the Lakota. In any other country that could be a death penalty; siding with the enemy will not be tolerated. Fire the sellout cops!”

(Contact Karin Eagle at staffwriter2@nsweekly.com)

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