Native Sun News: Tribes walk out of Keystone XL meeting

The following story was written and reported by Brandon Ecoffey, Native Sun News Managing Editor. All content © Native Sun News.

OST President, Bryan Brewer and Lakota Spiritual Leader, Wilmer Mesteth speak prior to walking out of Keystone XL Pipeline consultation. PHOTO BY/Brandon Ecoffey

Oceti Sakowin Unify
Tribes vow to stop pipeline
By Brandon Ecoffey
Native Sun News Managing Editor

RAPID CITY—“The Oceti Sakowin are united in this effort to stop the pipeline. It will not cross our lands. When we come together we have the power to stop anything,” said Rosebud Sioux Tribal President Cyril “Whitey” Scott.

With those words President Scott solidified the position of the great Sioux Nation in regards to the highly controversial Keystone XL pipeline. Scott made the statement just prior to walking out of a proposed “government to government” consultation on the pipeline hosted by the US Department of State at the Hilton Garden Inn in Rapid City.

Oceti Sakowin is the Lakota translation and interpretation of what mainstream America has historically labeled the Great Sioux Nation.

Scott was joined by Oglala Sioux Tribal President Bryan Brewer, Lakota spiritual leader Wilmer Mesteth, representatives of the Southern Ponca, Nez Perce, and several other tribes who signed on to a letter demanding a true government to government consultation.

“We will not meet with go-betweens,” said President Brewer of the Oglala Sioux tribe. “They say that this is a meeting between nations. Then where is President Obama. Go back to Washington, DC and tell them that we will only talk with President Obama or Vice President Biden,” said Brewer.

Representatives from the Northern Ponca attempted to stay and take part in the consultation however President Brewer placed an immediate ultimatum on those in attendance.

“At this time I am asking my brothers at the table to gather up your laptops, step away from the table and leave with us. I am asking that you do that.”

The Northern Ponca reps stated that they were going to respond to President Brewer and President Scott’s requests that tribes leave the consultation, however Brewer would not allow for any negotiations. “Hoka, Hoka, everyone leave,” said Brewer.

At that point all tribes present left the room except for the Northern Ponca. After several attempts to begin the consultation the Northern Ponca also left the table after enduring a verbal barrage from protestors led by Oglala Sioux tribal member Deb White Plume and members of the group Owe Aku (Bringing back the way). Owe Aku has been the most active Native American group opposing the Keystone XL Pipeline.

President Brewer stated that it was the intention of the tribes to invite President Obama to meet on tribal lands to discuss the proposed route of the pipeline.

“We believe the Obama is an honorable man and we know that he has a lot of pressure on him from the big corporations,” said Brewer to NSN. “We also know that he has a trust responsibility and treaty obligation to uphold to us. We will hold the US government accountable. We will tell Obama that we do not want this pipeline on our lands."

The elected officials were accompanied by Lakota spiritual leader Wilmer Mesteth who emphasized the importance of the land to Lakota.

“This land is part of us. Every time we went to protect these lands blood was shed and warriors were lost. We have to protect our water and our lands from what this pipeline could do to them,” said Mesteth.

Both President Brewer and President Scott emphasized that the Oceti Sakowin were prepared to take action to prevent the pipeline from crossing Lakota lands.

“The Sicangu, the Oglala, we don’t want them crossing our sacred lands, contaminating our water or our people. We are doing this for our children and our generations before us. The Oceti Sakowin is united. We are behind each other and so are our warriors,” said President Scott.

The same fiery rhetoric was echoed by President Brewer who emphasized that the Oglala’s were also prepared to take significant action to keep the pipeline from being built.

“The keystone pipeline will not cross our lands. We are ready to stop it and we are getting our horses ready if we need them," said President Brewer.

The public display of opposition to the pipeline by the Oceti Sakowin creates a major hurdle for advocates of the pipeline.

“It may seem like this is impossible or that we cannot stop this, but we can. When we come together there is a power exists. There are things in the ground that are meant to be there and are meant to stay there,” said Wilmer Mesteth.

(Contact Brandon Ecoffey at

Copyright permission by Native Sun News

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