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AAA Calls for De-escalation of Situation in Standing Rock
It was only a matter of time. Tensions over the Dakota Access oil pipeline have been escalating, with the company pressing ahead and opponents setting up a camp in the path of construction. The county sheriff called for more law enforcement from surrounding states. Meanwhile, hundreds of protesters have joined the Standing Rock Sioux tribe in their effort to block construction. Yesterday, armed soldiers and law enforcement officers dressed in riot gear advanced and began arresting protesters who had set up a camp on private land.
Clearly, the situation in Standing Rock is heading in the wrong direction. The noise level needs to be lowered so that people on both sides can be heard. However, that may be a while in coming.
The U.S. Justice Department (DOJ), Department of Interior and Department of the Army asked the developer of the Dakota Access Pipeline Tuesday to voluntarily cease construction in the 20-mile corridor leading to the pipeline’s proposed crossing at the Missouri River. It was the second time the Obama Administration had asked the company, Energy Transfer Partners, to stand down, so far to no avail. On the same day, American Indian tribes in Washington state called on President Barack Obama to overhaul the way the federal government consults with tribes on fossil fuel export and other projects. Thus far, the administration has not answered that call.
A good start may come from the Yakama Nation, Lummi Nation, Swinomish Indian Tribal Community and Spokane Tribe, who released a five-point plan they say will improve the consultation process, protect sacred sites and provide greater recognition of tribal rights. On the other side, Energy Transfer Partners must come back to the negotiating table.
The Dakota pipeline protest has resonated for a reason. In addition to violating the sacred trust between the US Government and the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe, construction of the oil pipeline also violates the cultural and collective environmental human rights of the Tribe to life, land, cultural preservation, health, clean water, and a clean environment.
David Brown Eagle, vice chairman of the Spokane Tribe Business Council, said in a statement that “the federal government must do more to keep the promises this country made to Indian people. We shouldn’t have to fight to protect what was already promised to us.” The AAA couldn’t agree more.
Founded in 1902, the American Anthropological Association, with 10,000 members, is the world’s largest professional organization of anthropologists. The Association is dedicated to advancing human understanding and tackling the world’s most pressing problems.