August 2020

Indigenous Peoples and Human Rights

Monday, September 19, 2011

North Dakota Indian Nations oppose Keystone XL pipeline

Alberta tarsands/Photo copyright Curtis Hooper
By Brenda Norrell
Censored News
Photos of environmental destruction by CurtisHooper:

The United Tribes of North Dakota opposed an environmental disaster in the making -- the Keystone XL Pipeline -- which would cross Indian country with dirty, corrosive oil from the Alberta tarsands, where mining is already destroying the homelands of First Nations.

The United Tribes in its resolution, opposing the pipeline, said the pipeline threatens "water aquifers, water ways, cultural sites, agricultural lands, animal life, public drinking water sources and other resources vital to the peoples of the region."

The United Tribes points out that the US has failed to carry out the required consultation with American Indian Nations. Further, the dangerous pipeline would cross Indian country. Already, the first Keystone pipeline in the northern plains has been the source of a spill.

The United Tribes opposed it because the Keystone XL would be the second oil transmission pipeline to be constructed by the same company that crosses through Indian country in northern Alberta, Saskatchewan, Montana, North Dakota, South Dakota and Nebraska.

The pipeline would cross near, and potentially over, many culturally significant areas for Tribal Nations within those provinces and states.

"Based on the relatively poor environmental record of the first Keystone pipeline, which includes numerous spills, U.S. regulators shut the pipeline down in late May, 2011, and, therefore, based on the record of the first Keystone pipeline, and other factors, it is probable that further environmental disasters will occur in Indian country if the new pipeline is allowed to be constructed."

Further the resolution points out that Indian tribes, including the Affiliated Tribes of Northwest Indians, are also in opposition to the Exxon-Imperial “Heavy Haul” proposal to transport “tar sands” equipment through the Nez Perce Reservation and across scenic highways, and several Indian tribes have joined in litigation to stop this proposal.

The resolution states that regardless of the concerns of the numerous Tribal Nations and the First Nations of Canada, and the fact that comments are still being collected on the pipeline, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency issued a “Finding of No Significant Impact” of the proposed pipeline.

The United Tribes resolution was passed during the Fifteenth Annual InterTribal Summit, which had the theme, “Tribal Challenge: Provide a Safe, Secure Environment for Living and Learning With Limited Resources," held Sept. 7--9.

"The U. S. Department of State did not properly consult with the Tribes along the route of the Keystone Excel Pipeline and, as a result of the mechanisms used for what consultation was provided, the affected Tribal Nations were not provided the opportunity for 'free and informed consent; regarding the construction of the pipeline," the resolution states.

"The United Tribes of North Dakota stands in solidarity with the First Nations of Canada and with Tribal Nations in the United States in opposing the Keystone XL pipeline and the Exxon-Imperial Heavy Haul proposal and their negative impacts on cultural sites and the environment in those portions of Indian country over and through which it is proposed to be constructed, and disagrees with the Finding of No Significant Impact issued by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, and agrees to file these comments regarding this opposition to the Keystone XL pipeline with the Secretary of State as soon as possible," the resolution states.

Further, the resolution says the pipeline is not in the best interest of the United States. The title of the resolution is: "Opposition to Keystone Excel (“Keystone II”) Pipeline now being considered for authorization by the United States Department of State, on the basis that construction of such pipeline is not in the national interests of the United States."

The United Tribes of North Dakota is an association of the five federally recognized Tribes located in North Dakota, each of which has a government-to-government relationship with the United States established by Treaty, including the Three Affiliated Tribes, the Sisseton Wahpeton Oyaté, the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe, the Spirit Lake Tribe and the Turtle Mountain Band of Chippewa, with a Board of Directors composed of the Chairman and one council member from each member Tribe.

Read the full resolution:

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