Standing Rock Sioux Chairman David Archambault II on Thursday blasted as “absolutely false” presidential Press Secretary Sean Spicer’s assertion that the administration of President Donald Trump had consulted with the tribe about the Dakota Access Pipeline. The phony fact came out of the White House daily press briefing on February 23, which took place even as the Oceti Sakowin water protectors camp was being bulldozed.
“On the Dakota Access Pipeline, a few weeks ago President Trump said he would try to negotiate a solution between the Standing Rock Sioux and Energy Transfer Partners,” a reporter asked. “Why hasn’t the President intervened and tried to initiate those negotiations yet?”
“Our team has been in contact with all the parties involved,” replied Spicer. “They have been working and communicating back and forth. So if we have an update on that—but there has been work at the staff level between the parties.”
This is patently untrue, said Archambault.
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“Spicer claimed that the Trump administration has been ‘constantly’ in contact with our Tribe. That claim is absolutely false,” Archambault said in a statement late Thursday. “We repeatedly asked for meetings with the Trump administration, but never received one until the day they notified Congress that they were issuing the easement. I was on a plane to Washington, D.C. when I learned the easement was issued. It was an insult to me and to the Tribe. I canceled the meeting upon hearing this news. We have since filed a lawsuit for the immoral and illegal issuance of the easement and suspension of the environmental impact study.”
The tribe has not changed its stance that DAPL “is a dangerous project that threatens our water,” the statement said. “The tactics to divide our fight against the real enemy, Energy Transfer Partners, are counterproductive and detract from the goal to stop the denigration of our sovereign rights to protect our treaty resources.”
It’s the second dicey statement made by the administration of President Donald Trump. A couple of weeks ago Trump himself said that no one had complained about the routing of the Dakota Access Pipeline (DAPL) under the Missouri River at Lake Oahe, causing equal parts outrage and hilarity as it emerged that the White House had turned off its public comments phone line.
Spicer’s remarks, coming on the same day that the Oceti Sakowin camp was bulldozed and the last 46 water protectors arrested—at gunpoint, although they were unarmed—carried added sting.
The nearly year-long standoff at the confluence of the Missouri and Cannonball rivers against the 1,172-mile-long, $3.8 billion pipeline’s route wound down as the February 22 deadline passed and most water protectors left Oceti Sakowin camp voluntarily. Those who remained on Thursday February 23 were arrested, bringing the total above 750 since last August, when people began pouring into the camps. At their height, the camps contained about 14,000 people.