Published August 25, 2016
WASHINGTON — The Standing Rock Sioux Tribe had its day in court at the E. Barrett Prettyman Federal Courthouse in Washington, D.C. on Wednesday, August 24, 2016, and now has to wait for at least two weeks for a ruling from U.S. District Judge James E. Boarsberge.
The case argued in the nation’s capital is 1,590 miles away in Cannon Ball, North Dakota where the Dakota Access, LLC seeks to put in a pipeline that infringes on the ancestral lands of the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe along the Missouri River.
The Standing Rock Sioux Tribe and others argue that construction will potentially disrupt sacred sites of the Sioux people and a pipeline could contaminate its source for fresh drinking water.
The hearing before the judge lasted about one and a half hour.
In the end, there was no injunction ordered on Wednesday. The judge said he will not render a decision on the lawsuit brought by the Standing Rock against the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers and Dakota Access, LLC until September 9, 2016.
Those holding prayer at the campsite near Cannon Ball vow to stay until they stop the pipeline completely. While hoping for resolution was delayed for at least two weeks, their conviction to remains strong.
The judge indicated that the central legal issue is whether or not proper tribal consultation occurred between the tribes and U.S. Army Corps of Engineers.
Outside the courthouse, hundreds of American Indians from many tribal nations from Indian Country gathered with allies to voice their opposition to proposed Dakota Access pipeline (#NoDAPL).
Many tribal citizens arrived by bus across America to show solidarity to Standing Rock Sioux Tribe and other Sioux nations from the Great Plains that oppose the pipeline. The gathering was clearly a demonstration of unity and strength among American Indians.
After the hearing, Standing Rock Sioux Chairman Dave Archambault, II addressed those assembled outside the federal courthouse. He thanked them for their support to his tribe.
On Wednesday evening, the following statement by Chairman Archambault was released to the media:
“We are pleased that we had our day in Court today, and we look forward to a ruling soon. I believe that everyone who attended the hearing today will understand that the Tribe is seeking fundamental justice here—as we seek to protect our waters and our sacred sites.
Second, whatever the final outcome in court I believe we have already established an important principle—that is tribes will be heard on important matters that affect our vital interests. The companies and the federal government now know that they cannot ignore tribes—like they tried to do with the Dakota Access Pipeline. I believe that we have established an important precedent, and that in the future, Indian voices will be heard before the federal government acts.
Third, I believe we have set the foundation for the future in terms of tribal unity. We have seen the power of tribes coming together in unity and prayer and we will continue to pray for the protection of water, mother earth and her creation, as well as all past and future generations. And I look forward to strengthening the Oceti Sakowin and the Council lodge. Most of all, these steps in unity must be done in the right way—which means that we must remain proud and peaceful. I want to emphasize once again—as I have throughout this matter—that there is no place for violence or threats or unlawful activity in what we do. We must stay unified in peace and in prayer. That is the way we will provide a better life for generations to come.”
Standing Rock Sioux Tribe v. U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, Case No. 1:16-cv-01534-JEB, was filed in the United States District Court for the District of Columbia on July 27, 2016. The Cheyenne River Sioux Tribe has joined the lawsuit as a plaintiff and can be part of future court proceedings.
Mark Charles and Emilee Jeffries contributed to this story from Washington, D.C.
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