Indian Country Grassroots Statement on Standing Rock

Written by: Matthew Fletcher

Primary Source : Turtle Talk, November 7, 2016



November 3, 2016

Lands and waters, in our deeply held way of life, are not mere resources nor are they boundaried areas to be owned. They are the foundation of all relationships. Relationships, in a sense deeper than commonly understood, is the foundation of peace, happiness, law and order. Land, waters and human beings are mutual stewards. The tragic consequences of contamination to rivers and oceans has been repeatedly demonstrated by the mining at Black Mesa and Tar Creek, and by the Exxon Valdez and BP oil spills.

The Dakota Access Pipeline is now almost upon the Missouri River despite renewed calls from within the federal government itself for a stop until the environmental impact is formally assessed. Such calls were in existence since spring but were nevertheless ignored by the agencies responsible for such assessments. Instead, the pipeline was “fast tracked.”

The Pipeline directly threatens the Missouri River, which is the source of life for the Standing Rock Sioux. It is understood that the pipeline will carry one million gallons of crude oil an hour, and that any leak that is not quickly stopped will cause irrevocable environmental damage. There are news reports of nearly 300 oil pipeline spills in North Dakota in less than two years in remote areas where leaks are not readily known. Leaks are inevitable. Therefore, indigenous Americans from numerous tribes have gathered in protest to save the source of life; to save the Standing Rock Sioux people.

The gathered protesters are not merely scattered activists; they are representatives of their Indigenous Nations who have all endorsed the request of the People of the Missouri River for stoppage in order to dialog with the Nations. They are also representatives of the American people. They stand together asking that the laws of the United States be followed and honored – the laws establishing a duty to act on behalf of all Americans in managing our natural resources.  We must all stand together to protect our limited and irreplaceable waters.

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Matthew Fletcher
Matthew L.M. Fletcher is Professor of Law at Michigan State University College of Law and Director of the Indigenous Law and Policy Center. He is the Chief Justice of the Poarch Band of Creek Indians Supreme Court and also sits as an appellate judge for the Pokagon Band of Potawatomi Indians, the Hoopa Valley Tribe, and the Nottawaseppi Huron Band of Potawatomi Indians. He is a member of the Grand Traverse Band of Ottawa and Chippewa Indians, located in Peshawbestown, Michigan. In 2010, Professor Fletcher was elected to the American Law Institute.