Opponents of Dakota Access pipeline invoke 1851 treaty to block construction

Members of the Standing Rock Sioux say they are invoking eminent domain on lands as stipulated in the 1851 Treaty of Laramie. (Photo Credit: Unicorn Riot)

Indigenous opponents of the Dakota Access pipeline are claiming land made officially theirs in an 1851 treaty and have set up a frontline camp directly in the path of the project’s construction. The latest stand off comes after police arrested more than 100 people resisting the pipeline over the weekend. FSRN’s Nell Abram has more.

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Citing a 19th century treaty, Native American opponents of the Dakota Access pipeline say they have reclaimed land rightfully theirs and set up a new encampment —  directly atop the proposed pathway of the controversial $3.8 billion pipeline project.

In a live stream from the front line camp Sunday morning, protester Rosetta Buan describes the scene: “Early this morning protectors came, they cut down the barbed wire fence along the road on that side, and they are taking back their sacred land. This is land that was granted to the Standing Rock Sioux in the treaties in the 1800s – this is land that, our government broke those treaties just a few years later. This is already their land.”

In a statement from a camp coordinator, members of the Sioux Nation, also known as the Oceti Sakowin, say they are exercising eminent domain over land the tribe never ceded and will stay camped there until the pipeline is permanently stopped.

In 1851, eight plains tribes and the United States signed the Treaty of Ft. Laramie, also known as the Horse Creek Treaty. The agreement defined the tribes’ respective land boundaries and gave the U.S. the right to build infrastructure within. Further, the U.S. pledged to protect the tribes from “all depredations by the people” of the United States.

If completed, the four-state pipeline would carry crude from the Bakken oilfields to a transfer hub in Illinois. The Standing Rock Sioux and their supporters say the pipeline’s crossing of the Missouri River poses a threat to their land and water.

At least 127 people were arrested Saturday after police sprayed pepper spray on protesters during a prayer walk along the pipeline work site — at least two journalists were among those arrested.

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