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Keystone XL Pipeline route crosses path of Ponca Tribe's forced removal






Citizens of the Ponca Tribe set up a Trail of Tears Spiritual Camp near Neligh, Nebraska, November 2013 to oppose the Keystone XL Pipeline. Photo: Mark Hefflinger / Bold Nebraska

The route of the controversial Keystone XL Pipeline in Nebraska follows the forced journey of the Ponca Tribe in the late 1800s.

According to documents filed with the Nebraska Public Service Commission, the preferred route runs 275.2 miles through the state. It starts about one mile south of the South Dakota border in Keya Paha County and ends near Steele City in Jefferson County.

Along the way, the pipeline would cross portions of the Ponca Trail of Tears in northern and central Nebraska. That's the route the Poncas were forced to take when the federal government ordered them to move to present-day Oklahoma in 1877.

The connection has Bold Nebraska seeking permission for Ponca citizens to participate in Keystone XL proceedings. The activist group delivered petitions to the Nebraska Public Service Commission on Wednesday, the deadline to file as intervenors.


The preferred route of the Keystone XL Pipeline crosses portions of the Ponca Trail of Tears in northern and central Nebraska. An alternative route, not shown here, follows the Ponca Trail of Tears even closer. Image: TransCanada

“Bold is proud to stand with the many brave Nebraskans who have been fighting the Keystone XL pipeline for years,” attorney Ken Winston said in a press release. “We are also proud to stand up for the legal rights of many people opposing this environmental nightmare whose voices might not otherwise be heard in this process. And we are proud to stand up for the land, the water and all the bounteous natural resources that sustain our state and its people, now and into the future.”

Indian Country thought Keystone XL was dead after the Obama administration rejected the pipeline in November 2015 due to concerns about climate change and natural resources. But Republican President Donald Trump revived the project just four days after taking office in January.

TransCanada subsequently reapplied for a permit in Nebraska on February 16. The Canadian-based firm submitted a preferred route and some alternative paths -- including another one that traces the Ponca Trail of Tears even more closely.

The Ponca Tribe is hosting a Remembrance Walk to commemorate the 140th anniversary of its forced removal. The event starts April 29 in Niobrara, in the northern part of the state, and concludes May 11 in Barneston, in the southern part.

“As we mark the 140th anniversary of the forced removal of the Ponca Nation, we honor our ancestors who have gone before us and commemorate their sacrifice and loss while also celebrating where we are as a nation today and look forward for our future generations,” Chairman Larry Wright Jr. said earlier this week.

Read More on the Story:
Activists seek to intervene in Nebraska Keystone XL review (AP 3/22)

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