Friday, November 4, 2016

Frequently Asked Questions about #NoDAPL

Location of Sioux Tribes
prior to 1770 (dark green)
FAQ on the Dakota Access Pipeline Protests and the PC(USA)

What is the history of the land?
The Standing Rock Sioux Reservation was originally established as part of the Great Sioux Reservation. Article 2 of the Treaty of Fort Laramie of April 29, 1868 described the boundaries of the Great Sioux Reservation, as commencing on the 46th parallel of north latitude to the east bank of Missouri River, south along the east bank to the Nebraska line, then west to the 104th parallel of west longitude. (15 stat. 635). 
The Great Sioux Reservation comprised all of present-day South Dakota west of the Missouri River, including the sacred Black Hills and the Missouri River. Under article 11 of the 1868 Fort Laramie Treaty, the Great Sioux Nation retained off-reservation hunting rights to a much larger area, south to the Republican and Platte Rivers, and east to the Big Horn Mountains.  Under article 12, no cession of land would be valid unless approved by three-fourths of the adult males. Nevertheless, the Congress unilaterally passed the Act of February 28, 1877 (19 stat. 254), removing the Sacred Black Hills from the Great Sioux Reservation.  The United States never obtained the consent of three-fourths of the Sioux, as required in the Treaty of Ft. Laramie. The U.S. Supreme Court concluded that "A more ripe and rank case of dishonorable dealings will never, in all probability, be found in our history."  United States v. Sioux Nation of Indians, 448 U.S. 371, 388 (1980).
Lands Opened to development and
sale by the Dawes Act of 1889
The Standing Rock Sioux Reservation was greatly reduced through the Act of March 2, 1889, also known as the Dawes Act and the Allotment Act. This opened up the reservations throughout the United States to settlement by non-Indian entities, thus creating checker-boarded land ownership within the Standing Rock Reservation. The tribe maintains jurisdiction on all reservation lands, including rights-of-way, waterways, and streams running through the reservation; this in turn leads to on-going jurisdictional disputes in criminal and civil court. Recent cases such as Nevada vs Hicks have contributed to the contentious issues in this iron triangle between the Federal, State, and Tribal governments.
The Standing Rock Sioux Tribe stands by its right to self-government as a sovereign nation, which includes taking a government-to-government stance with the states and federal government entities. The Tribe signed treaties as equals with the United States Government in 1851 and in 1868, which established the original boundaries of the Great Sioux Nation. The tribe staunchly asserts these treaty rights to remain steadfast and just as applicable today as on the day they were made.
Text from the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe website

Proposed route of the
 Dakota Access Pipeline
To learn more about the federal government’s trust doctrine with the tribes that put the government and the tribes in a guarantor/trustee relationship, refer to this reporting from High Country News.

What is the history of the conflict?

For a full timeline, please refer to the Sacred Stone Camp website

The Dakota Access Pipeline (DAPL), in a pipeline project operated by Dakota Access LLC, a subsidiary of Houston based corporation, Energy Transfer Partners, L.P. The DAPL, also known as the Bakken Pipeline, would transport 450,000 barrels of crude oil per day from the Bakken fields of North Dakota to Patoka, Illinois.

Despite strong objections from the Tribe from the first time they heard of the project, on July 25, 2016, the U.S Army Corps of Engineers granted authorization to the Dakota Access Pipeline to cross Lake Oahe. The current route of construction takes the pipeline less than one half mile from the Tribe’s reservation border, and thus the Tribe maintains a sovereign interest in protecting its cultural resources and patrimony that remain with the land. The pipeline would cross the Tribe’s traditional and ancestral lands and the construction of the pipeline jeopardizes many sacred places[1].
According to Standing Rock Sioux Tribal Chairman, David Archambault, the tribe was presented with already completed plans for the pipeline during consultation. In contrast, he noted that other federal agencies such as the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) share early notification of projects before embarking on construction. “Tribes should be at the steering level of such infrastructure projects,” Archambault said[2].
On April 1, 2016 the Sacred Stone Camp was established by Standing Rock Sioux tribe members and allies with the goal of protecting the tribe’s drinking water and their sacred lands. Since that time, the protest has grown to include several camps of peaceful and prayerful protestors who employ non-violent direct action tactics to stop the construction of the pipeline.
Photo Credit to Tomas Alejo
The response by law enforcement to evict and repress water protectors has escalated over the past months. Police and private security representatives have unleashed dogs, pepper spray, and military grade weapons on protestors and tribe members, including children. The camps have seen increased military and militarized police presence, which tribe members say is an unnecessary display of force against peaceful protestors. Those arrested have reported being strip searched and intimidated. David Archambault II, Chairman of the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe, has written a letter to U.S. Attorney General Loretta Lynch in which he notes, “state and local law enforcement have increasingly taken steps to militarize their presence, intimidate participants who are lawfully expressing their views, and to escalate tensions and promote fear.”
What is the current status of litigation to stop the pipeline?

There are two broad issues of concern to the Standing Rock Sioux. First, the pipeline would pass under the Missouri River (at Lake Oahe) just a half a mile upstream of the tribe’s reservation boundary, where a spill would be culturally and economically catastrophic. Second, the pipeline would pass through areas of great cultural significance, such as sacred sites and burial grounds that federal law seeks to protect.
The Tribe sued the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, which is the primary federal agency that granted permits needed for the pipeline to be constructed. The lawsuit alleges that the Corps violated multiple federal statutes, including the Clean Water Act, National Historic Protection Act, and National Environmental Policy Act, when it issued the permits.
Because the Corps owns land on either side of Lake Oahe, Dakota Access must get an “easement” from the Corps to dig the tunnel for the pipeline underneath federally owned lands. Dakota Access only needs the easement for the drilling underneath Lake Oahe; it has permits to construct everything else, such as the access road and pipeline route up to the Lake Oahe crossing site. 

For a litigation timeline and to read key documents pertaining to the case, please refer to the Earth Justice website:

What is the PC(USA)’s stand on the protests taking place against the Dakota Access pipeline on the Standing Rock Sioux Reservation?

Recognizing the call of Jesus to stand with those who seek justice, Presbyterians have supported the water protectors in prayer. We have traveled to Standing Rock and have made financial contributions and provided supplies. We have signed petitions, made phone calls, and written letters to public officials and corporate leaders. Strong support for the land defense effort by the Standing Rock Sioux is one step towards right relationship with Native people who are on the frontlines of protecting God’s good creation.

This show of support is a timely response to actions of the 222nd General Assembly in Portland Oregon in June 2016, which approved:
·      An apology to Native American’s for the church’s involvement and administration of boarding schools during the late 19th and early 20th centuries whose purpose was the “civilization” of Native American children.
·      A repudiation of the Doctrine of Discovery: this “doctrine” derives its authority from Pope’s and European royal decrees stating “explorers” may seize lands and convert “non-Christians” in their name and for the good of the Christian Church. It remains the basis, as late as 2005, for Indian Law and Supreme Court decisions against Tribes.

The Rev. Dr. J. Herbert Nelson III, Stated Clerk of the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.), in conjunction with the Rev. Irvin Porter, associate in the Office of Native American Intercultural Congregational Support, issued a statement in support of the Standing Rock Sioux on August 29, 2016.