Published September 9, 2016
EAGLE BUTTE, SOUTH DAKOTA – Today the Cheyenne River Sioux Tribe filed an Amended Complaint in a lawsuit currently pending in the D.C. district court against the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers. Cheyenne River has intervened in the lawsuit originally filed by the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe to stop the Dakota Access Pipeline to protect the rights of the Lakota people, their sacred sites, and waters of the Missouri River.
In its amended complaint, Cheyenne River asserts new claims based on rights set forth in a series of Treaties between the Tribe and the United States entered into in the nineteenth century and still in effect, which commit the United States to a sacred pledge to provide the Tribe with a homeland that is not only permanent, but livable. The amended complaint states that these promises of the United States include a property right in waters needed to support the Tribe’s reservation. The Tribe notes that the United States is obligated to protect these waters from harm and pollution and contends that the Corps violated its solemn trust duty to the Tribe when it granted permission to Dakota Access to run a crude oil pipeline under Lake Oahe, the reservoir of the Missouri River that houses the Tribe’s drinking water supply.
“We thank the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe for all of its hard work and dedication in protecting the sacred Mni Šoše and initiating the fight on behalf of all peoples to protect sacred sites. We will continue to work together to fight for the Great Sioux Nation,” said Cheyenne River Sioux Tribal Chairman Harold Frazier. “This is an important fight and yet another example of the federal government’s failure to live up to its trust responsibility to protect tribal resources, including water.”
Cheyenne River Sioux Tribal member and attorney for the Tribe, Nicole Ducheneaux, reiterated the Tribe’s duty to diligently enforce its treaty rights. “The people of the Great Sioux Nation, especially the Cheyenne River Sioux Tribe, will not stand idly by while our treaty rights are violated. We remember the words of the Supreme Court that great nations, like great men, should keep their word. And we intend to do everything in our power to ensure these rights are upheld and our precious resources are protected.”
A decision on Standing Rock’s Motion for Preliminary Injunction on the issue of the Corps’ failure to consult under the National Historic Preservation Act is expected tomorrow. The Court did not permit Cheyenne River to participate in this motion. Even so, Cheyenne River has committed to fighting alongside Standing Rock in any further court action related to the motion.
The Court has yet to hear issues related to the Tribes’ treaty rights and their right to clean water.
Chairman Frazier added, “We cannot risk our drinking water. Water is sacred and the thing that gives us life. It is our first medicine. As Lakota people we know we have to protect it for the sake of future generations, our children and children everywhere. We have seen how other communities have been shattered when the government fails to protect their water– the Navajo Nation downstream from the Gold King Mine leak and the little children of Flint, Michigan whose water was full of lead, not to mention the devastating impacts that result from oil spills and pipeline leaks all over this Nation.”
We ask for your support and prayers as we continue this important fight. We also ask for the support and prayers of our peaceful and prayerful water protectors watching over our sacred water and our sacred sites near Cannonball, North Dakota.