Yesterday (September 21), 1,281 anthropologists, archaeologists, historians and museum workers sent a letter to President Barack Obama demanding he and the Department of Justice, Department of the Interior and the Army Corps of Engineers conduct a proper environmental impact statement and cultural resources survey on the Dakota Access Pipeline‘s route.
In addition, they condemned Energy Transfer, the company behind the pipeline, for destroying ancient burial sites, places of prayer and other cultural artifacts. As the letter states, this happened on September 3—just hours after the Standing Rock Sioux tribe’s lawyers filed court papers about the newly found burial site.
The letter reads:
Former tribal historic preservation officer Tim Mentz called the discovery of the site “one of the most significant archeological finds in North Dakota in many years.” “This demolition is devastating,” Tribal Chairman David Archambault II said. “These grounds are the resting places of our ancestors. The ancient cairns and stone prayer rings there cannot be replaced. In one day, our sacred land has been turned into hollow ground.”
The destruction of these sacred sites adds yet another injury to the Lakota, Dakota, and other Indigenous Peoples who bear the impacts of fossil fuel extraction and transportation. If constructed, this pipeline will continue to encourage oil consumption that causes climate change, all the while harming those populations who contributed little to this crisis.
The tribe shared the letter on its Sacred Stone Camp Facebook page, calling it “an amazing act of solidarity.” Later today (September 22), a House Democrat forum is scheduled about the environmental hazards facing the Sioux. "Taking a Stand: Protecting Water and Native American Sacred and Cultural Sites at Standing Rock" will look at the federal government’s responsibility to the tribe and its right to safe drinking water.
Find the letter, along with all its signees, here.