With the Republican-controlled U.S. Congress working to approve the Keystone XL pipeline, Great Plains tribes are calling on President Obama to veto any legislation passed to authorize its construction.
On January 11, the Great Plains Tribal Chairman’s Association (GPTCA) sent a letter to Obama signed by its Chairman, John Steele, President of the Oglala Sioux Tribe, asking Obama to veto legislation which would approve the pipeline and to not approve a permit for the pipeline.
The GPTCA is made up of Chairmen from 16 American Indian Tribes in North Dakota, South Dakota and Nebraska, and Steele noted that all have signed Treaties with the United States in which the U.S. pledged to protect Indian Tribes and guarantee the right to self-government.
“The pipeline is planned to traverse through our homelands that still possess substantial treaty obligations, cultural and natural resources and water rights for all of the Great Plains tribes,” Steele wrote. “These are also the homelands of numerous animals, birds and fish including several endangered species.”
Steele also expressed concern for climate change and the impact it will have for generations to come.
“Because of “the dire concerns outlined,” Steele also requested an emergency meeting with Department of Interior Secretary Sally Jewell, who has a responsibility to hear directly from tribal leaders in a government-to-government meeting.
The press release and copy of the letter is posted on the Indigenous Environmental Network’s website. The IEN is an international environmental justice non-profit which has been working with the GPTCA to fight the Keystone XL pipeline.