In a Friday letter to President Obama, the United States Department of Justice, Department of the Interior, the Army Corps of Engineers, a coalition of more than 1,200 archeologists, museum directors, and historians from institutions including the Smithsonian and the Association of Academic Museums and Galleries denounced the deliberate destruction of Standing Rock Sioux ancestral burial sites in North Dakota.
As archaeologists, anthropologists, historians, and museum workers committed to responsible stewardship, we are invested in the preservation and interpretation of archaeological and cultural heritage for the common good. We join the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe in denouncing the recent destruction of ancient burial sites, places of prayer and other significant cultural artifacts sacred to the Lakota and Dakota people.
On Saturday, September 3, 2016, the company behind the contentious Dakota Access Pipeline project bulldozed land containing Native American burial grounds, grave markers, and artifacts–including ancient cairns and stone prayer rings. The construction crews, flanked by private security and canine squads, arrived just hours after the Standing Rock Sioux tribal lawyers disclosed the location of the recently discovered site in federal court filings.
Former tribal historic preservation officer Tim Mentz called the discovery of the site “one of the most significant archeological finds in North Dakota in many years.” “This demolition is devastating,” Tribal Chairman David Archambault II said. “These grounds are the resting places of our ancestors. The ancient cairns and stone prayer rings there cannot be replaced. In one day, our sacred land has been turned into hollow ground.”
The letter goes on to address the historical abuse of American Indian people and their lands and the contribution oil extraction is making to climate change. They ask for a “thorough environmental impact statement and cultural resources survey on the pipeline’s route, with proper consultation with the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe.”
While a short portion of the pipeline construction has been halted by the Obama Administration until this survey can be done, construction continues elsewhere on the pipeline. It’s significant to have the writers of the Native American Graves Protection and Repatriation Act forcefully admonish the president’s administration to be more thorough on the entire path of the pipeline.
More background on the resistance to DAPL below the fold.
After the chairman of the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe asked the United Nations on September 20 for protection of the tribe's sovereign rights, on Friday a U.N. special envoy for aboriginal rights called on the U.S. government to stop construction on the Dakota Access oil pipeline.
Victoria Tauli-Corpuz, a United Nations special envoy for the rights of indigenous people, called for a halt to the pipeline's construction because it's seen as a threat to drinking water supplies and some of the sacred sites of the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe.
"The tribe was denied access to information and excluded from consultations at the planning stage of the project and environmental assessments failed to disclose the presence and proximity of the Standing Rock Sioux reservation," she said in a statement.
The Standing Rock Sioux tribe set up a camp in April to protect the source of their drinking water at Lake Oahe on the Missouri River where the pipeline would be buried. The camp has since grown by thousands with hundreds of tribes and supporters joining them to help gain national and international attention.
Many thanks to Lawrence O'Donnell for his national coverage of Standing Rock.
Tribal members began protesting the 1,172-mile, four-state, Dakota Access Pipeline construction by setting up camp along the banks of Lake Oahe in North Dakota.
The Standing Rock Sioux Tribe filed suit in federal district court in Washington, D.C., against the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, which is the primary federal agency that granted permits needed for construction of the pipeline. Background here—Sacred tribal sites still in danger from DAPL by Earthquake Weather
The small Sacred Stone Camp grows supporters there by the thousands with 280 tribes represented.
National attention grows from the next two events.
—The Dakota Access Pipeline guards unleash attack dogs on our American Indian water protectors by navajo (23,515 Facebook shares)
—North Dakota activates National Guard to protect the pipeline instead of our tribes by navajo (40,061 Facebook shares)
—The Vicious Dogs of Manifest Destiny Resurface in North Dakota by Jacqueline Keeler
—North Dakota v. Amy Goodman: Arrest Warrant Issued After Pipeline Coverage
It was also reported that members of Red Warrior camp have been arrested and that law enforcement check points are photographing people, perhaps to make mass arrests later. Activists are urged to avoid the check points.
Federal court denies the Standing Rock Tribe’s request for injunction. However, a joint statement from the Department of Justice, the Department of the Army, and the Department of the Interior asked for construction to voluntarily be ceased on federally controlled lands.
—Standing Rock Sioux Tribe’s request to stop Dakota Access Pipeline denied, Dept. of Justice steps in by navajo
—Partial Victory for Standing Rock Sioux by EarthquakeWeather
Sacred Stone Camp is feeling this: Erased By False Victory: Obama Hasn’t Stopped DAPL
A detailed analysis provided by attorney Robin Martinez — who is coordinating legal advice and representation for protesters at the North Dakota camps: What You May Not Know About the Dakota Access Pipeline
Sept. 13 — 22 Water Protectors are arrested and jailed without bond after locking themselves to construction machinery.
—North Dakota’s Governor Declared a State of Emergency to Deal With Peaceful Oil Pipeline Protesters. We Call It a State of Emergency for Civil Rights by Jennifer Cook, Policy Director, ACLU of North Dakota
Sept. 14 — Morton County Sheriff pursues felony charges on those arrested. 23 people and their charges are named. As of 9/14 a total of 69 individuals have been arrested for illegal protest activities.
—Judge drops injunction against tribal leaders allowing them to protest lawfully
—Cherokee give $50,000 to oppose North Dakota pipeline
Sept. 16 — U.S. Army Corps of Engineers grants Special Use Permit to Standing Rock Sioux Tribe to use Federal lands managed by the Corps near Lake Oahe for gathering to engage in a lawful free speech demonstration.
—Appeals court halts Dakota Access Pipeline work pending hearing that will give the court more time to consider the tribes' request for an injunction.
Sept. 20 — Standing Rock Sioux Chairman asks the United Nations for protection of the tribe's sovereign rights by navajo
We are all stewards of the earth