Strategic Differences, Expected Flooding, Complicate DAPL Opposition

A number of people had versions of the U.S. flag flying upside down, an officially recognized signal of distress.
At the Oceti Sakowin Camp last year, many had U.S. flags flying upside down, an officially recognized signal of distress.

The federal government is giving water protectors less than three weeks to clear out their camps due to concerns the Cannon Ball River will flood the camp during the spring melt.

Meanwhile, strategic differences among Dakota Access Pipeline (DAPL) opponents threatens the cohesion of the movement. The Standing Rock Sioux Nation will continue its fight in court and is organizing a March on Washington but has asked water protectors to decamp. Other groups, including the Sacred Stones Camp and a veterans group, vow to continue to have a physical presence opposing DAPL.

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The Legal Arguments for Stopping DAPL, and More Updates

Dakota Access Pipeline (DAPL) news summary:

  • MPR reviews the legal arguments that could be used to force the government to continue the environmental review of DAPL, a process the story said could delay the project for up to two more years. However, the headline questions whether this is the “beginning of the end.”
  • Indian Country Today is asking whether U.S. Sen. John Hoeven (R-ND) was mislead or intentionally misleading when he announced Wednesday that approval of the DAPL easement was just days away.
  • Three U.S. Senators write President Trump to ask him to engage in meaningful consultation with the Standing Rock Nation.
  • The city of Seattle will vote on ending its business relationship with Wells Fargo over DAPL.

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A Win for North Dakota’s Three Affiliated Tribes, A Loss for Leadership in North Dakota

Imagine your family had owned a pristine fishing lake in northern Minnesota for generations. Then in the 1940s, the township — using dubious legal maneuvers — claimed the property for needed economic development.

Your grandfather tried for years to get the lake back but no one would listen. Succeeding mayors and their friends used the lake for their enjoyment; after enough years passed, no one really questioned the arrangement. No one even remembered your family had once owned the lake.

It became a painful part of your family story. Yet, after many years, a court unexpectedly ruled in your family’s favor. You were on the verge of reclaiming this beautiful lake, but the powers-that-be still pushed back with a startling demand:

“For years, this area has been used by many of us for hunting, fishing and other recreational activities,” they said. “Is there a plan to ensure that we maintain the access we have enjoyed in the past, free of charge?”

You are speechless. You think to yourself: “How can someone who cheated my family out of our property think they still have a right to use it?”

It sounds kind of silly. But this is pretty much the story of what has happened to the Three Affiliated Tribes in North Dakota. In the 1940s, the federal government seized parts of their reservation for a flood control project. The result was the Garrison Dam project. It created a large reservoir, flooding reservation lands to protect other, predominantly white, cities downstream. A law said the federal government would return whatever land it did not need for flood control to the tribes.

Now in 2016, the federal government is getting around to returning the unused land.

It seems like a no-brainer, but some North Dakota leaders are pushing back. They seem to have no empathy for what the Three Affiliated Tribes have suffered — or an understanding of the law.

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