07 March 2012

Native Americans vs. the Keystone Pipeline

An interesting story that I've not seen in the mainstream internet media, as reported by The Raw Story:
At least five Native Americans were arrested in South Dakota on Monday after a six-hour standoff that temporarily blockaded trucks from moving equipment thought to be destined for the Keystone XL Pipeline.

Lakota activist Olowan Martinez told Raw Story that members of the tribe were working to obtain a restraining order that would allow them to confiscate any future shipments coming across Pine Ridge Indian land. The group opposes the pipeline because of health and environmental concerns...

She said that activists expected the trucks to be accompanied by armed security the next time they came through...

Activist Debra White Plume, who was arrested on Monday, told Censored News that the State of South Dakota had worked with the corporation’s office in Canada to create a route across the Pine Ridge Reservation in order to skirt weigh stations on the Interstate Highway System, which could have cost $50,000 for each of the two trucks.

“The truckers told us the corporation office from Calgary, Alberta, Canada and the State of South Dakota made a deal to save the truckers $50,000 per truck, there were two trucks, from having to pay $100,000,” Plume said. “They each carried a ‘treater vessel’ which is used to separate gas and oil and other elements. Each weighs 229,155 pounds, and is valued at $1,259,593, according to the papers we got from the truck drivers.”..

"XL Pipeline equipment, anything that has to do with the destruction of Unci Maka (Mother Earth), we don’t want any part of it. They need to stay out of our territory.”
Additional details and over a hundred comments at the source link.  As far as I know, the Lakota have sovereignty over their territory and have every right to ban those heavy trucks from their roads.


  1. Lakota may have sovereignty over their territory... but I am willing to bet that what they are looking for is money more than anything else.

    I also wonder about the unidentified 'corporation'. It is written in a way that is very unclear. I assume that they are talking about the Native corporation which has likely already been paid. The problem seems to be that the activists just haven't gotten their 'cut' of that payment.

    I was most struck by the racism from the Lakota activist Olowan Martinez in the article. This seems to be much more about race activism than anything else.

    1. I see your point, but since the story says "South Dakota had worked with the corporation’s office in Canada" then it would almost certainly be the pipeline corporation, not the Lakota.

      And they may well be seeking money, but if the purpose of the weigh stations and "tolls" on big trucks on US interstates is to pay for damage to the roads caused by their weight, then I should think the same compensation should be granted to the tribe if they are responsible for their roads.

    2. "racism" Oh, the classic "reverse racism" I guess....

      Yeah I can't imagine why Native Americans would be angry about white men violating them and their sovereignty yet again.

  2. I am suprised they do not want to go ahead and just pay the tax... after all, they can just write it off at the end of the year.
    What? They already write off enough to pay a zero sum? Well no wonder then. Who wants to pay taxes when there is a perfectly viable way to scr.. ehm scam the little guys?

  3. The Tribe doesn't pay for maintenance on the roads. The State of SD does.

  4. And the state most certainly has an easement to use and maintain the road. A tribe in upstate New York has threatened similar action in a dispute with the state over cigarette taxes: http://www.syracuse.com/news/index.ssf/2009/01/seneca_nation_plans_to_collect.html

    And issues of tribal soveriengty are so complex and particular (often rooted in 19th century treaties) that one can't make generalizations. Often, roads on reservations are paid for by the Federal government, the projects are administered by BIA, and the work is contracted out to the tribe. But in this case, it's a state road, so everything's out the window.


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