photo by Patricia Montes Gregory
CANNON BALL, NORTH DAKOTA – With 4,000 veterans at Standing Rock, on Sunday, December 4, 2016, Assistant Secretary Jo-Ellen Darcy of the Army Corps of Engineers advised Chairman Harold Frazier of the Cheyenne River Sioux Tribe that the United States will not grant the easement that Dakota Access needed to cross under our sacred Missouri River until it has conducted a full review, including consideration of alternate routes that are respectful of tribal rights and interests. This decision will prevent Dakota Access from any drilling under the tribal waters of Mni Sose at this time.
Chairman Frazier responded with profound gratitude for the water protectors and their allies who have fought for this decision. He said, “Thank you from the very bottom of my heart to the water protectors, whose peaceful and prayerful resistance and courage in the face of brutality and ignorance made this day possible. I am so proud today of our Native people and our non-Native allies. Creator put us on this earth to protect Unci Maka and today we have achieved a victory for our Grandmother Earth.”
Chairman Frazier also commended President Barack Obama’s honorable decision. “I thank President Barack Obama and the United States for this historic decision that will do much to restore the faith of the Lakota people in the country that has treated us so dishonorably for so long.”
Chairman Frazier was quick to say that the work of the water protectors is not over, as the Tribe expects Dakota Access to litigate this issue. The Cheyenne River Sioux Tribe is prepared to respond to any litigation on this issue.
The legal team of Fredrick, Peebles and Morgan issues this statement on behalf of the tribe. “It is not clear exactly what the review process for the easement will look like going forward, but it is certain that Dakota Access will challenge it in federal court and the Tribe is prepared to fight back. It appears that the Corps will be actively considering alternative routes, and the Cheyenne River Sioux Tribe will insist on being full and active participants in consultation on that. Although no timeframe was given as to when the full review will begin, the Tribe does not expect it to conclude until after January 1, 2017. The Tribe intends to continue providing all the evidence and argument to show why the United States should not approve any alternative that jeopardizes our Treaty-derived right to clean water or our sacred sites.”
Chairman Frazier reiterated that he understands that the water protectors have no plans to vacate the Standing Rock camp at this point. “Today we won the battle, but our fight is not yet over. While we will savor this victory, we must continue to prepare for the long road ahead of us. The court battle will continue and the political battle will wage on. But we will never stop fighting for our Unci Maka.”
He added, “To the water protectors and the veterans on the ground now, thank you for your commitment and perseverance in the face of harsh and brutal conditions, your actions demonstrate the true meaning courage. I want to extend my special thanks to Sophia Wilanksy.”
Water protectors around the world are celebrating today’s victory, which comes just one day before another round of veterans are due to arrive in Standing Rock to act as protection to the water protectors who have been at camp Oceti Sakowin since August. While the fight continues for now, the mood is celebratory as people come together in gratitude for this new development.