Published September 24, 2016
WASHINGTON – On Friday, the Departments of Army, Interior and Justice today invited all federally recognized tribes for a formal government-to-government consultation on “how Federal decision-making on infrastructure projects can better allow for timely and meaningful tribal input.”
The meetings are scheduled to begin with a listening session at the National Congress of American Indians (NCAI) convention in Phoenix on October 11, 2016.
The statement below from Dave Archambault II, Chairman of the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe, was released on Friday:
The Obama Administration’s call for national reform on this issue is a historic moment. We welcome the Administration’s invitation to all tribes to consult on the process for decision-making on infrastructure projects. The Standing Rock Sioux Tribe are fighting for our lives, our people and our sacred places because of a failed process for approval of the Dakota Access Pipeline. The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers did not hold meaningful consultation with our Tribe before approving construction of this pipeline. They did not conduct a survey of cultural resources. They have not conducted a full Environmental Impact Statement (EIS).
We have already seen the damage caused by a lack of consultation. The ancient burial sites where our Lakota and Dakota ancestors were laid to rest have been destroyed. The desecration of family graves is something that most people could never imagine.
The Army Corps must conduct a full EIS. Our water, our resources and our lives are at risk because of this pipeline. Our sacred places that we have lost can never be replaced. The Army Corps and all federal agencies have a responsibility to our Tribe, and all tribes, to honor the treaties. This invitation is a good start but the government has a lot more to do to permanently protect the millions of people who rely on the Missouri River for water and who are put at serious risk because of this pipeline. They can start by stopping construction until the EIS is complete.
NCAI was pleased with Friday’s announcement.
“Tribal Leaders from across Indian Country have come together in an unprecedented show of support for the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe, in the fight to protect their water and cultural places,” said NCAI President Brian Cladoosby, “So many of our tribal nations have dealt with the same type of issues protecting our natural and cultural resources.”
NCAI encourages the advancement of tribal sovereignty, and anticipates these tribal consultations sessions as an opportunity for tribal nations to their take place as governments during the review and permitting process of projects that will impact tribal waters, lands, and sacred places.