Harold Frazier: Obama must put a stop to Dakota Access Pipeline

ReZpect Our Water: Young members of the Cheyenne River Sioux Tribe took part in an anti=Dakota Access Pipeline rally at the White House on August 6, 2016. Photo by Indianz.Com

The following is the text of an August 14, 2016, letter from Harold Frazier, the chairman of the Cheyenne River Sioux Tribe, to President Barack Obama and Secretary of the Interior Sally Jewell regarding the Dakota Access Pipeline. The tribe is sending a delegation to the Standing Rock Sioux Reservation on Monday, August 16, as protests against the controversial project continue.

Stop Dakota Access Pipeline from Poisoning Our Children’s Drinking Water
By Harold Frazier
Chairman, Cheyenne River Sioux Tribe

Dear President Obama and Secretary Jewell:

You pledged to work with our Indian nations and tribes on a nation-to-nation basis to address the issues that matter to us every day. You came to the Standing Rock Sioux Reservation in North Dakota, and quoted our great chief, Sitting Bull: “Let us put our minds together and see what we can do for our children.” With all respect, we ask you to put your mind together with ours and see what we can do to protect our children’s lives and health from poison water.

Here is a quote from a youth submitted on social media captioning a picture of your visit to the Standing Rock Reservation, “This was the day that you promised to protect our people! This was the day you told our youth you would do whatever it takes to protect their future! Fulfill your promises and help us protect our water!”

The Dakota Access Pipeline (DAPL) is a 1,172 mile 30” diameter pipeline that will cross the Great Plains to transport 470,000 to 570,000 barrels of crude oil per day. The DAPL is planned to cross the Missouri River above the confluence of the Cannonball River, a few steps from the Standing Rock Sioux Reservation in North Dakota. DAPL threatens the safety and quality of our drinking water, and threatens to destroy the environment of our Sioux reservations along the Missouri River.

Under the 1868 Sioux Nation Treaty, the Oceti Sakowin of the Lakota, Nakota, Dakota Oyate or Great Sioux Nation reserved as our “permanent” home: All the land from the Cannonball River in the North along the low water mark on the east bank of the Missouri River to the Nebraska Border and west to the Wyoming Border. The Missouri River is wholly within our treaty territory, and over the years, the United States has asked us to cede hundreds of thousands of acres along the Missouri River within our homeland for flood control by the Army Corps of Engineers.

Our Sioux Nation tribes use the Missouri River for our drinking water, we have treaty rights to hunt and fish, reserved rights to graze livestock along its banks, and it is our source of water for irrigating crops. Under our Treaty, we own reserved waters in the Missouri River. Yet, the Army Corps turned its back upon our Sioux Nation tribes and plans to approve the DAPL to run oil under the Missouri River without consulting with our tribal governments. Indeed, the Army Corps has not even consulted with the Secretary of the Interior and the Secretary of Agriculture who are our partners in our Missouri River tribal drinking water projects. The Army Corps is violating our treaty rights, statutory rights, and your policy on sustainable Indian nations, President Obama.

We have seen the devastation wrought by oil spills in the Gulf of Mexico, where BP had build “fail safe” systems to run its oil platform. BP’s systems failed catastrophically—despite their best planning. We have seen government planners provide lead poisoned water to the residents of Flint, Michigan. We have seen the EPA pour out poison mine waters into Colorado waters in the name of “clean-up,” only to poison Navajo Nation waters downstream.

As the Lakota say, Mni Wiconi—“water is life.” The Army Corps must not risk our children’s lives with the dangerous DAPL project without even conducting an Environmental Impact Statement!

Among our Sioux Nation tribes, we sacrificed to protect American cities downstream on the Missouri River from flooding—sacrificed our sacred oak trees, our wildlife, our best river bottom lands, our very homes for flood control. Do not let the Army Corps of Engineers sacrifice our people again. President Obama, Secretary Jewell we call upon you to honor our treaty and trust responsibility, and help us protect our Missouri River, our drinking water, and our source of life from the DAPL and its danger of life threatening oil spills.

Stop the Army Corps’ intended approval of the DAPL.


Harold Frazier, Chairman
Cheyenne River Sioux Tribe

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