Great Plains Tribes Win Important Legal Fight to Protect Tribal Water and Treaty Resources


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Man at Standing Rock protests. Photo by Tomas Alejo.The Great Plains Tribal Chairmen’s Association (GPTCA), the Native American Rights Fund (NARF), and the National Congress of American Indians (NCAI Fund) applaud the DC District Court’s decision today to vacate the US Army Corps of Engineers’ Lake Oahe easement for the Dakota Access Pipeline, and to require the removal of all oil flowing through the pipeline by August 5, 2020. This decision ensures that the treaty-reserved rights of the plaintiff tribes – the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe, the Cheyenne River Sioux Tribe, the Yankton Sioux Tribe, and the Oglala Sioux Tribe – are adequately addressed, along with any other land and natural resource considerations, in a full-fledged and well-documented environmental review process.

GPTCA, NARF, and NCAI Fund participated in a coalition of Native organizations submitting an amicus brief in support of the plaintiff tribes during the latest proceedings in the DC District Court and are encouraged by this outcome. We hope that this decision helps pave the way for full and proper environmental impact studies as well as meaningful consultation with tribal nations that have direct or indirect stewardship over the lands under review. Our organizations will continue to work to ensure that every time tribal lands and resources are at stake, the environmental review processes meet all legal standards and respect the federal government’s trust obligations to tribes set forth in federal laws.