An official petition was submitted to the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights; representatives from the tribes will appear before the Commission next Friday
WASHINGTON, D.C. — The Standing Rock Sioux Tribe, the Cheyenne River Sioux Tribe and the Yankton Sioux Tribe (the “Tribes”) announced today that they have requested the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights call on the United States to adopt precautionary measures to prevent irreparable harm to the Tribes, their members, and others resulting from the ongoing and imminent construction of the Dakota Access Pipeline (“DAPL”), and from the harassment and violence being perpetrated against people gathered in prayer and protest in opposition to DAPL.
According to the filing, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (the “Corps”), an agency of the U.S. government, failed to adequately assess potential environmental and social impacts of the project in its role as issuer of the numerous permits necessary for construction of DAPL, including authorization to drill beneath the Missouri River at Lake Oahe. The filing alleges that both U.S. law and international law require that the Corps carry forth its permitting assessment in consultation with potentially affected indigenous peoples. The filing further alleges that because the Corps disregarded the Tribes’ consistent and continuing objection to construction of the pipeline, the Tribes face irremediable harm to sacred and historical sites and resources, including the waters of the Missouri River.
The filing also raises grave human rights concerns surrounding threats, harassment and injury sustained by people peacefully praying and protesting in defense of the waters and the Tribes’ rights. The filing alleges that such conduct by police, military and private security guards and the failure of the U.S. government to protect the protesters constitutes a severe violation of the protesters’ rights to life, physical integrity and personal liberty, security, health, protection against arbitrary arrest, and freedom of association and assembly.
The Tribes’ request seeks the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights to call on the Government of the United States to protect the rights of the Tribes by denying the easement allowing construction of the pipeline under the Missouri River at Lake Oahe; complete a full environmental impact statement in formal consultation with the Tribes; and immediately take all actions necessary to guarantee the safety of those engaging in peaceful prayer and protest concerning DAPL, as well as several other measures to ensure the rights of indigenous peoples are protected.
“Tribal concerns and treaty rights have been disregarded and ignored under the pretext of the ‘letter of the law for far too long,” said David Archambault II, Chairman of the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe. “Our people have tolerated this kind of treatment for over 200 years and enough is enough. It is time the United States finally and consistent with its legal and international obligations fully recognize our right to be treated like human beings and as sovereign nations.” Robert Flying Hawk, ?Chairman of the Yankton Sioux Tribe, said “Our status as sovereign nations is recognized internationally, as it exists outside of any constructs propagated by the United States. As indigenous nations, we are standing strong in our conviction to protect the human rights of our people including advancing those interests in an international forum.” Faith Spotted Eagle, Chair of the Ihanktonwan Treaty Steering Committee, said “Endangering human and water security is a violation of international human rights. Our treaties are international law and are entitled to respect as such. Beyond that, we are constantly under corporate attack on our cultural and natural resources and spiritual life ways, We are being robbed of treaty lands and it must be stopped.”
The Tribes brought the filing collectively. The Standing Rock Sioux Tribe is represented by Earthjustice and the American Indian Law Clinic at the University of Colorado Law School. The Cheyenne River Sioux Tribe and the Yankton Sioux Tribe are represented by Fredericks Peebles & Morgan LLP. A group of tribal representatives has been invited to testify at a hearing by the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights on December 9 at 10:15 a.m. These representatives will hold a press conference following the hearing.