At the end of July, the Rosebud Sioux Tribe and the Fort Belknap Indian Community (the Tribes) filed their response to the defendant’s motions to dismiss in Rosebud Sioux Tribe v. Trump.

“The federal government argues that the treaties don’t matter. Obviously, that is not the case. Like the US Constitution, treaties are the law of the land, and no one is above that law,” said NARF Staff Attorney Matthew Campbell.

Treaties are more than solemn promises between nations. They are also solemn promises between the citizens of those nations. Over the years, the United States government  willingly made very specific promises to tribal nations. In exchange for measures like “safe passage of emigrants” and “peaceful construction of the railroads,” the US government and tribal nations signed treaties to prevent intrusion on or destruction of tribal nations’ lands and natural resources. The United States formally agreed, among other things, to keep outsiders off Sioux and other tribal nation’s territory and protect tribal natural resources. Those treaties are binding to this day and we expect them to be honored. Rather than honoring these legal obligations, the United States has chosen to blatantly violate them.

When they entered into treaties with the United States, the tribal nations meant to protect their natural resources (water, grasslands, and game) and keep people from crossing their lands. The 2019 pipeline approval violates both of these provisions.

Maps issued by TransCanada (TC Energy) clearly show the proposed KXL pipeline crossing tribal lands. They are proposing to do so without the tribal consent required under the treaty law. The Tribes argue that the 2019 permit, which would allow a Canadian company (TransCanada) to build another dirty tar sand crude pipeline across American soil, also creates a substantial risk of

  • the desecration and destruction of cultural, historic, and sacred sites;
  • the endangerment of tribal members, especially women and children;
  • damage to hunting and fishing resources, as well as the tribal health and economies associated with these activities;
  • the impairment of federally reserved tribal water rights and resources;
  • harm to tribal territory and natural resources in the inevitable event of Pipeline ruptures and spills; and
  • harm to the political integrity, economic stability, and health and welfare of the Tribes.

The United States must answer to the Tribes for violations of the treaties and be instructed to honor them. NARF will not allow the US government to ignore or forget the agreements made with tribal nations. Neither the president nor wealthy foreign corporations are above the laws of our country.

Hearings on the motion to dismiss will be held Thursday, September 12, 2019, in the United States District Court for the District of Montana, Great Falls Division.

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Read more about the illegal permitting of the Keystone XL Pipeline.

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