TransCanada Pipelineâ€™s Ltd. and the state of South Dakota have violated the treaty rights of the Indigenous people of South Dakota in their push to run the Keystone XL pipeline (KXL) pipeline through Lakota land. Thus, on 26-29 July 2015, CPT travelled to Pierre, South Dakota, at the invitation of the Sicangu Oyate (Rosebud Sioux Tribe). An alliance of local landowners, NGOs, and tribal governments had organized a legal challenge to the KXL during a nine-day series of hearings in which TransCanada Corporation sought re-certification of its construction permit from the public utility commission (PUC) of South Dakota.
The KXL pipeline aims to transport diluted bitumen to the Gulf Coast from the tar sands formation in northern Alberta, a crude oil source so dirty that scientists are predicting that its impact will amount to a "game over" for the climate. Moreover, Indigenous people in the vicinity of the tar sands and other proposed pipelines involved with it have experienced treaty violations, massive pollution of homelands, and violence from temporary work crews.
CPTer Charles Wright, reservist King Grossman, and I arrived in Pierre on Sunday, 26 July, and attended a protest march co-organized by the Indigenous Environmental Network and Dakota Rural Action. There were around 400 people walking, including many from local reservations, and about twenty on horseback. Lakota and Dakota people from Cheyenne River, Crow Creek, Lower Brule, Pine Ridge, Rosebud, Standing Rock, Sisseton, and Yankton were represented and led the march across the Missouri River. A water ceremony and prayer time centered the gathering around respect for unci maka (mother earth), honoring the ancestors, and planning for the next seven generations who will inherit the planet we leave behind.