"This Is Our Land:" Lakota Form Human Blockade to Stop Tar Sands Trucks

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Common Dreams

"This Is Our Land:" Lakota Form Human Blockade to Stop Tar Sands Trucks

by
Common Dreams staff

Photo by Andrew Iron Shell

Lakota members yesterday formed a human blockade to stop trucks carrying tar sands equipment through the Pine Ridge Indian Reservation. The action resulted in the arrest of 5 protesters.

Brenda Norrell reports:

PINE RIDGE, S.D. -- Lakotas on Pine Ridge Indian land in South Dakota were arrested as they blockaded tarsands pipeline trucks from entering their territory on Monday, March 5.

Lakota human rights activists Alex White Plume, Debra White Plume, Sam Long Black Cat, Andrew Iron Shell and Terrell Eugene Iron Shell were arrested late Monday. They were charged with disorderly conduct and taken to the jail in Kyle, S.D.

Yesterday afternoon, KILI Radio 90.1 FM issued a call to action to have others join the blockade of the pipeline trucks:

ACTION ALERT PINE RIDGE SD: Calling all Lakota Men on the Pine Ridge Reservation to come to Wanblee SD.
XL Pipeline trucks are being held there at the border by our Lakota Oyate, OST Police and State Troopers in an effort to keep them from entering our territory. Even the state troopers told the trucks they have to turn around and cannot bring their...pipeline or other materials on to our reservation. The XL Pipeline trucks are refusing to turn around claiming they have corperate rights that supercedes any other laws. Olowan Sara Martinez, Debra White Plume, Grandma Marie Randall and others are there holding their ground.

Native News Network reports that the trucks had attempted to pass through reservation land in an effort to avoid paying the state of South Dakota thousands for using the state highway:

At issue was there were two trucks that appeared to be hauling pipes through the reservation on their way to Canada. The new trucks that were delivered in Texas from South Korea were carrying pipes used for tar sands pipeline. Totran Transportation Services, Inc., a Canadian company apparently wanted to avoid paying the state of South Dakota $50,000 per truck or $100,000 to use its state highways. Instead Totran Transportation thought they would use the roads on the reservation.

Some 75 Lakota thought otherwise.

Native News Network adds that the trucks may meet continued blockades on the roads if they again attempt to use tribal roads:

The Oglala Nation and all American Indian tribes in South Dakota have adamantly opposed the Keystone XL pipeline that was routed through the Pine Ridge and Rosebud Indian Reservations that would cross the Oglala Sioux Rural Water Supply System in two places.

Late Monday, it was reported the Eagle Butte Indian tribal council met to decide to form a human blockade on their reservations if the Trotran convoy attempts to come through their reservation which is north of the Pine Ridge Indian Reservation.

Steven McFadden writes that this action "could become an international focal point:"

The vast earth-changing Keystone XL pipeline project — ripping up the tar sands of the Northlands and then pumping the toxic goo thousands of miles over fertile but fragile land to the Gulf of Mexico — was supposed to be on hold. But TransCanada, the foreign-owned corporation, continues aggressively to shove, spurt and snake parts of the pipeline forward.

This developing confrontation between Native peoples – who from their traditions understand that they bear responsibilities as keepers of the earth — and the huge multinational corporate XL Pipeline complex, could become an international focal point.

In this video uploaded by NativeImpact, we hear the voice of a 92-year-old tribe member speaking to a police officer as the trucks are being stopped. She says, "This is our reservation and this is our community." Speaking to the other Lakota nearby, she urges them, "This is your foundation -- protect it."

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