Native Sun News Today: #NoDAPL struggle brings tribes together

Tribal unity grows over pipeline conflict
Consultation meetings help forge common identity
By James Giago Davies
Native Sun News Today Correspondent

RAPID CITY –– “It started from that first episode up at Standing Rock,” Executive Director of the Great Plains Tribal Chairman’s Association, A. Gay Kingman said. “Obama got a hold of the Department of Justice (DOJ) and the United States Army Corps of Engineers, and determined that nothing would happen (with the DAPL pipeline) until we had these (series of) consultations; ours was the last one.”

Kingman is referring to a series of six tribal consultations across the nation with federal agencies beginning on October, 25, 2016, at the Daybreak Star Indian Cultural Center in Seattle, Washington. Ostensibly, these consultations could have focused on any number of tribal concerns, but the chief concerns for those attending the final consultation held at the Holiday Inn Dakota Ballroom in Rapid City on Thursday, November 17, was the threat to tribal water from the Dakota Access Pipeline (DAPL) just north of the Standing Rock Reservation in North Dakota, and the threat to sacred burial and historical sites in the construction path of the proposed pipeline.

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The first of these tribal consultations, in Arizona back in early October of 2016, was actually deemed a “listening session,” and despite the consultation label for the Rapid City meeting with federal agencies, Kingman characterized it as a listening session as well, her reasoning being: “A consultation is more of a give and take.”

Kingman thought the tribes were interested in give and take, but that the federal agencies were just listening. Clearly, over the course of the consultation, which ran from 8:30 in the morning until 4:00 in the afternoon, with no break for lunch, representatives of the federal agencies gave no indication they were prepared to do anything beyond hear and record testimony. No apparatus was in place for any deeper level negotiating.

Tribal leaders and speakers of note had their say, as well as everyday Lakota people, and while the sentiments expressed were heartfelt and often moving, and the federal representatives appeared to listen with earnest concern, in the end little actual substantive progress was accomplished due to the toothless structure of the consultation.

It is apparent that the government tried to do more than just listen. In March of 2015, Martha S. Chieply, the Chief Regulatory Branch Operations Officer for the US Army Corp of Engineers, in a letter to all Sioux tribes, notified them consultation and review was being initiated under Section 106 of the National Historic Preservation Act of 1966, to determine each tribe’s interest, and to gather information to assist the Corps in identifying historic properties.

Read the rest of the story on the Native Sun News Today website: Tribal unity grows over pipeline conflict

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