Published February 24, 2017
AKWESASNE — On Tuesday, Enníska/February 21, 2017 the Saint Regis Mohawk Tribe signed onto an amicus brief in support of the National Indian Women’s Resource Center’s (NIWRC) objection to the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers abrupt termination of the Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) process and granting of an easement for the Dakota Access Pipeline. The brief focuses on the failure of the Corps to consider the public interest and impact on Native women and children that will result from the presence of significant oil production and transportation facilities near the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe in North Dakota.
“As a tribal community that cares strongly about the protection of Native women, we joined the National Indian Women’s Resource Center in sending a message in support of the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe,” stated Tribal Chief Beverly Cook. “We appreciate the efforts of the NIWRC to raise awareness of the atrocities that are regretfully not a thing of the past, as they should be, but continue to be a part of our reality today.”
On February 8th, the Army Corps of Engineers terminated the EIS process and granted the Dakota Access Pipeline its requested easement to cross the Missouri River at Lake Oahe. On February 14th, the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe moved for partial summary judgment in the Federal District Court in Washington, DC; asking the court to find the termination of the EIS process and granting of the easement in violation of federal law due to the federal government’s failure to fulfill trustee obligations, which requires it to evaluate the impact of the pipeline on tribal nations and their citizens in relation to the longstanding treaty and trust obligations to the tribe.
Noted in NIWRC’s amicus brief is the alarming increase since oil production began in the Bakken region in 2005 for sexual assault, sex trafficking and other violence against Native women and children. This fact was noted in a 2014 Congressional report issued by the U.S. Department of Justice’s Office on Violence Against Women and is attributed to the creation of “man camps” that brought in an estimated 100,000 oil workers. As a result, the Tribe’s Three Sisters Program offered its support, along with 118 tribal communities and organizations, to prevent further acts of violence and crimes.
“Our hearts continue to go out to those victims that have suffered a violent act and are still trying to overcome the hurt it has caused to themselves and their families,” shared Community and Family Services Division Director Jamie Bay. “It’s unconscionable that a federal agency would not take into consideration previous findings of the oil industry’s impact on public interests and its violent history toward Native women, who are still in crisis.”
The Saint Regis Mohawk Tribe is a federally recognized Tribe, whose territory is bisected by the U.S./Canadian border, which has made the community susceptible to human sex trafficking and exploitation. As a result, the Tribe created the Three Sisters Program in 1998 to offer preventive programs and other services to protect women and families experiencing violence. They have lent their support to Standing Rock in sharing their experience in dealing with domestic violence and sexual assault crisis response.
“We are proud to support those who have stepped forward to help individuals that may be at risk or are already in crisis,” noted Three Sisters Program Manager Ida Montour. “Our women and children are sacred to us; so we offer our assistance in protecting, empowering and guiding victims on a path that is free from violence and sexual assault.”
The Saint Regis Mohawk Tribe also signed onto the brief submitted by the National Congress of American Indians that asserted the federal government’s trust responsibility to consult with tribal communities in the initial stages of assessing environmental issues. For years, the Tribe has been seeking environmental justice for the insufficient clean-up of the Superfund Site located at the former General Motors plant, located immediately upriver and upwind to the Akwesasne community. The EPA failed to meaningfully consider the Tribe’s recommendations to protect its community by ordering the removal of all contaminated material from the site due to the close correlation between the environment and public health.
To download and view a copy of the amicus brief, please visit the National Indian Women’s Resource Center’s website at http://www.niwrc.org/news/national-indigenous-women%E2%80%99s-resource-center-stands-standing-rock-ensure-safety-native-women-and
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