Although more than 300 tribes have rallied in support of the Standing Rock Sioux’s stance against the routing of the Dakota Access oil pipeline under the Missouri River near their reservation, the support has not all been Native.
Nineteen U.S. city governments have passed resolutions or written letters opposing construction of the Dakota Access pipeline, the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe said in a statement on October 13.
From Seattle to Saint Paul and Minneapolis, to Cleveland, to Portland, Oregon, and all over Turtle Island, the resolutions have been streaming in for weeks. In California the cities of Berkeley, Santa Barbara and Oakland have sent in resolutions. So have Asheville, North Carolina; Sitka, Alaska, and Urbana, Illinois, the latter one of the four states that the pipeline will pass through.
The myriad resolutions being passed by city and municipal councils around the United States express solidarity with the Standing Rock Sioux and Indigenous Peoples in general. They reference everything from treaty rights and broken promises, to the common need for drinking water and the burgeoning of distrust in oil companies’ ability to ensure the safety of their pipelines.
“Nearly all of St. Louis’s drinking water is sourced from the Missouri River, and approximately half of Missourians receive their drinking water from this river, as well,” said St. Louis, Missouri in its resolution. “Recent oil spills, including the release of 80,000 gallons of oil near Tioga, North Dakota in October 2013; 51,000 gallons of oil released into the Yellowstone River upstream from Glendive, Montana; as well as the release of 1,000,000 gallons of tar sands crude in Michigan’s Kalamazoo River in July 2010, demonstrate the danger for downstream communities, fish, and wildlife from oil from pipelines such as the Dakota Access.”
Some also expressed a desire to atone, to acknowledge the people who were living here when Europeans set foot on Turtle Island.
“The City of Ithaca sits upon Haudenosaunee Confederacy land, and we live with daily reminders of the horrors of treaties unhonored,” wrote Ithaca, New York, Mayor Svante Myrick in a letter to Standing Rock accompanying the council’s resolution. “Every day on my way to City Hall I pass Cayoga and Seneca streets with the knowledge that the modern foundation of our streets was built upon an ancient burial ground. If we can play even the smallest role in preventing that history from repeating itself, it would be an honor.”
“The pipeline threatens the lives of more than 17 million people who get their water from the Missouri River,” said Standing Rock Sioux Chairman David Archambault II in the statement. “Millions stand with us in opposition to this destructive pipeline.”
He also reiterated that without the court’s constraint, the pipeline builders are continuing to destroy the sacred places that the tribe had designated, and said the federal government could do more.
“Already, Energy Transfer Partners has ignored the Obama Administration’s call to voluntarily halt construction and continues to desecrate our sacred places,” he said. “President Obama’s Administration has the power to change the fate of the water users who stand to lose clean water. He has options to prevent this destruction.”
Such options include denying any further easements for routing the pipeline under the Missouri River, or designating the area that is under contention as a cultural district for potential listing on the National Register of Historic Places. At the very least, the tribe and those standing in solidarity with them said, the administration should thoroughly study the possible impacts and alternatives and to prepare a full Environmental Impact Statement—something that scientists, federal agencies and others have requested.
“We need President Obama to take action now, our lives and our sacred places are at risk,” Archambault said. “He must heed the call of the millions of people who stand with us to say water is sacred.”