Chairman Harold Frazier of the Cheyenne River Sioux Tribe addresses the media at the #IndigenousRising round dance in Washington, D.C., on April 28, 2017. Photo by Indianz.Com / Available for use under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 4.0 International License
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Cheyenne River Sioux Tribe welcomes 'victory' in Dakota Access Pipeline case





The Cheyenne River Sioux Tribe is welcoming a federal judge's decision to send the Dakota Access Pipeline back to the Trump administration for further review.

Although the 91-page decision does not stop oil from flowing through the controversial pipeline, Chairman Harold Frazier called it a “victory.” The tribe has long been pushing for the environmental review that Judge James Boasberg ordered in the ruling.

“I have always had faith and believed in the people, treaties and water protectors,” Frazier said on Thursday. “The prayers of many were answered with this decision. “It is one victory in the many battles that will face our people, but history has shown the we will always prevail with unity and prayer.”

According to the decision, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers failed to address the impacts of the pipeline on tribal treaty rights and the environment. The judge left open the possibility that operations might need to be halted pending additional analysis.

“There is a lot of fight left to fight,” said attorney Nicole Ducheneaux, a Cheyenne River citizen who is representing her tribe in the case. “We are ready.”

Boasberg has scheduled a hearing next Wednesday, June 21, to discuss a potential “remedy” -- such as stopping the flow of oil through the pipeline. In advance of the status conference, the tribe updated its complaint to address the Trump administration's “arbitrary and capricious” decision to approve the final portion of the project in North Dakota.

President Donald Trump himself has indicated he didn't put much thought into the controversy. Just four days after taking office, he ordered an "expedited" review of the pipeline -- it was approved by the Army Corps barely two weeks later.

“Nobody thought any politician would have the guts to approve that final leg and I just closed my eyes and said 'Do It,'” Trump said during a June 7 speech on infrastructure.

The Standing Rock Sioux Tribe, whose leaders originally filed the lawsuit last July, also updated its complaint. It alleges the Trump administration's approval violated the federal government's trust and treaty responsibilities.

“The Corps engaged in no consultation with the tribe over the decisions to reverse the decisions made in recognition of and to protect the tribe’s treaty rights,” the amended complaint reads.

Standing Rock Sioux Chairman Dave Archambault II was in an airplane, on his way to meet with the White House, when the final portion was approved on February 7. Chairman Frazier wasn't told until the documents had already been signed.

The decision allowed the wealthy backers of the pipeline to complete the 1,172-mile project. Oil began flowing on June 1, a development that Trump took credit for in his speech earlier this month.

The final portion crosses the Missouri River at Lake Oahe, where the tribes hold fishing, hunting, gathering and other rights that were guaranteed to them by treaties. The land is currently managed by the Army Corps.

The June 21 hearing is scheduled to take place at 2:30pm Eastern at the federal courthouse in Washington, D.C.

Related Stories:
Mark Trahant: Dakota Access decision offers a chance to return to respect (June 16, 2017)
Indian Country cheers as judge orders review of Dakota Access Pipeline (June 15, 2017)
Albert Bender: Judge drags his feet in Dakota Access Pipeline case (June 12, 2017)
Dakota Access faces fines for disturbing artifacts in North Dakota (June 8, 2017)
President Trump put wealthy firm first in approving Dakota Access Pipeline (June 7, 2017)
Dakota Access Pipeline begins shipping oil months behind schedule (June 1, 2017)