Two Years After Dakota Access Pipeline Starts, Army Corps of Engineers Finally Consults With Cheyenn

Photo taken April 27, 2018 on Treaty Ride near Fort Laramie, WY, by Todd Darling

On May 29, 2018.representatives from the Army Corps of Engineers will meet with Harold Frazier, Chairman of the Cheyenne River Sioux Tribe, and members of their Tribal Council in Green Grass, SD. This meeting comes nearly two years after the start of construction of the Dakota Access Pipeline. That pipeline, built to carry more than 500,000 barrels of oil per day, is located directly up-stream from the Cheyenne River Sioux Reservation and runs under the Missouri River, the tribe's drinking water supply.

Chairman Frazier said that, "We were never invited or notified about any kind of meeting being held . We were left in the dark. (This) is the first time the Corps of Engineers is going to meet with us in regards to DAPL. We asked for the removal of (former district head) Col Henderson – that is his job – he has to notify all of the stake holders and he never did. He just worked with one tribe, and that is their strategy – to work with one tribe, it is a lot easier, and keep us separate and that is how they worked it."

Chairman Frazier and over 500 members of the Cheyenne River Sioux participated in the camps and non-violent direct actions that took place at Standing Rock during 2016 and 2017 in a prolonged effort to stop the Dakota Access Pipeline. In the last days of the Obama Administration, in 2016, the Army Corps of Engineers declined to grant the pipeline the easement to cross the Missouri River. But, after Donald Trump was inaugurated one of his first actions in office was to reverse that decision by Executive Order, and grant the pipeline permission to cross under the Missouri.

The Cheyenne River Sioux and the Standing Rock Sioux sued in federal court to reverse that order on the grounds that it violates the tribe's treaty rights. That case is still pending. Prior to the Green Grass meeting the Army Corps of Engineers has refused to comment on anything to do with DAPL because "of orders from the Department of Justice not to discuss the on-going case." As sovereign nations the federal government is supposed to communicate with the Sioux tribes "government to government" at the federal and not state level. This is the first "government to government" contact regarding the Dakota Access Pipeline with the Cheyenne River Sioux, and the pipeline has been pumping oil since 2017.