Published March 20, 2017
EAGLE BUTTE, SOUTH DAKOTA – On Saturday, March 18, 2017, the D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals denied the Cheyenne River Sioux Tribe’s emergency motion for injunction pending appeal to stop the flow of oil in the Dakota Access Pipeline under Lake Oahe while the appeals court considers the Tribe’s challenge pursuant to the Religious Freedom Restoration Act (“RFRA”). The case in the D.C. Circuit is an appeal from the district court’s March 7, 2017 Order denying the Tribe’s motion for preliminary injunction under RFRA.
Cheyenne River Sioux Tribal Chairman Harold Frazier stated: “The Cheyenne River Sioux Tribe of course is disappointed in the outcome of this motion. The flow of oil under Lake Oahe will devastate the practice of our religion. The shameful truth is that America can’t understand the holiness of our Grandmother Earth and her importance to our existence. But that is why we Lakota people were put on this earth—to fight for Unci Maka when the of rest world has forgotten her. We are not just doing this for us. We’re doing it for all of you.”
Dakota Access, LLC has stated in court filings that oil could flow as soon as Monday, March 20, 2017.
The Lakota people of the Cheyenne River Sioux Tribe believe that the presence of this crude oil pipeline—the Black Snake—under the sacred waters of Lake Oahe will render the waters ritually impure for use in essential Lakota religious sacraments. The Court’s order affects only the motion for injunction pending appeal. The Court will not decide the merits of the appeal until it has been fully briefed and argued by the parties. The Court has yet to schedule either briefing or argument.