Fort Peck Executive Board member Jestin Dupree and Fort Belknap Tribal Council member Brandi King announced their withdrawal from the task force in separate Facebook posts last Monday, shortly after Fox issued a press release announcing he had filed to intervene in the lawsuit. Dupree later updated his post to say that Fox had called and asked him to reconsider, but Dupree said he declined due to the risk the pipeline and man camps pose to tribal members. He also claimed in his post that Fox created the task force only because he is running for governor and wants tribal votes. “Our tribe opposes the pipeline and then the state wants to go forward knowing our stance and I won’t be a part of this task force any longer. It was nice to attend these MMIP TF [Montana Missing Indigenous Persons Task Force] meetings and to get on the same sheet of music but then a slap in the face like this is just a let down,” Dupree wrote. Dupree later said in a phone call with Montana Free Press that he doesn’t know if any other task force members intend to withdraw. He said he did email them copies of his statement. “On one hand, he’s rubbing our back, but on the other hand, he’s punching us in the stomach,” Dupree said of Fox.
Our Missing Indigenous Persons Task Force is gathering in Billings today. Agenda includes update on currently missing indigenous persons and how interested tribal colleges can apply for LINC grant. #mtnews pic.twitter.com/EPmSeuXFNK— Tim Fox (@AGTimFox) September 27, 2019
King did not respond to multiple requests for comment Tuesday. King said Monday on Facebook that she is at a prayer ride in Minnesota with Anishinaabe, Dakota, and Lakota relatives after meeting with Ojibwe writer, pipeline opponent, and former Green Party vice-presidential candidate Winona LaDuke over the weekend. “Ironic that this ride starts on the day I hear about MT DOJ’s support of the KXL Pipeline, which will DESTROY Nakoda and Aaniiih Sacred Sites,” King said in the post, referencing a separate lawsuit filed by the Fort Belknap Indian Community to block the Keystone pipeline’s threat to historical sites sacred to the reservation’s Assiniboine and Gros Ventre tribes. King had announced her withdrawal from the task force in an earlier Facebook post. “Does he [Fox] know Fort Belknap is in litigation against the Trump Administration and the proposed destruction of some of our most sacred [sic]. I guess the MT DOJ really doesn’t give a shit,” she wrote. On Wednesday, October 10, a Great Falls federal court judge heard arguments on several motions in the lawsuit Fox has filed to intervene in. Plaintiffs, including the Northern Plains Resource Council, Sierra Club, and Natural Resources Defense Council, want Judge Brian Morris to grant an injunction preventing construction of the pipeline. In response to Fox’s filing to intervene, Glendive farmer, NPRC member, and lawsuit plaintiff Dena Hoff provided a statement reading, in part: “We’re disappointed that Attorney General Fox is using the state’s resources to help a Canadian energy corporation export their products to foreign markets. Montana’s interests are best served by ensuring clean water for all, including drinking water at Fort Peck and irrigating water for Montana’s farmers and ranchers. Northern Plains will continue to stand up for everyday Montanans and the safety of our clean water. We hope Attorney General Fox will reconsider these misguided efforts.” Morris granted an injunction blocking the pipeline last November, but President Trump used two executive orders to change the rules on how pipelines are permitted, and the U.S. 9th Circuit Court of Appeals ruled the injunction moot in June, greenlighting construction, and leading to the latest lawsuit. Another anti-KXL lawsuit by the Indigenous Environmental Network has a hearing scheduled for Thursday in the same court. TC Energy lawyers said Monday the pipeline company will scale back construction activities until after Wednesday’s hearing.
Our Missing Indigenous Persons Task Force has wrapped up its meeting in Great Falls. Productive discussion on formulating an action plan for the best way to compile a comprehensive #Montana MIP list. Thank you all for the important work you're doing. #mtnews pic.twitter.com/odyIbLEc8y— Tim Fox (@AGTimFox) August 10, 2019
Hunter Pauli is a Seattle-born, Missoula-based freelance investigative reporter and graduate of the University of Montana School of Journalism. You can follow him on Twitter @paulimeth.
This story originally appeared on Montana Free Press on October 9, 2019. It is published under a Creative Commons license.
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Documents indicate plans to spy on Native opponents of Keystone XL (September 14, 2018)
'We're just outnumbered and out-moneyed': Fort Peck Tribes fight Keystone XL (August 30, 2018)