The building of the Keystone Pipeline has been a topic of great concern and debate for many Native American tribes, and in regards to pipeline protest news, this has been a significant issue that has even lead to the arrest of some Lakota activists. Many communities are opposing the Keystone Pipeline project and are in fear of it contaminating land, drinking water and running through tribal lands that are known to be sacred. One tribal council has taken a string stance on the opposition of the pipeline and the Rosebud Sioux Tribal Council approved legislation that would formally oppose the building of the pipeline.
Official Action Taken by RST
The Rosebud Sioux Tribe has taken many steps to prevent the building of the Keystone Pipeline through their land and one of the major stands taken was the creation of a Spirit Camp in March of 2014. This was one of the very first actions taken by the RST to make pipeline protest news. The camp will unite tribe members and non-members in prayer for protection from the pipeline. The Rosebud Sioux also took part in the Cowboy Indian Alliance and have been leading campaigns called Oyate Wahacanka Woecun, standing for the Shield of the People. This campaign set up multiple encampments along the proposed pipeline route to resist the building and continuance of the Keystone pipeline project. Activists have continued to oppose the building of the pipeline and have many concerns for the safety and welfare of tribal land and those that reside on reservations that will be directly affected by the construction of the new pipeline.
There are many concerns for tribe members, including recent oil spills that have contaminated land as well as cattle. There have been three major oil spills since the pipeline started operation in 2010 and the last spill was recent, in November of 2017, spilling 210,000 gallons of oil in South Dakota. The Keystone Pipeline project brings about many environmental concerns and will also increase the US dependence on fossil fuels. Lakota tribes have remained stewards of the land since they settled in the Dakotas and they feel it is their responsibility to provide safe and responsible energy resources. The RST and many other members of the Sioux Nation have created tribal resolutions to oppose the pipeline.
Current RST Actions
In November of 2017, the Nebraska Public Service Commission granted an approval for the Keystone XL pipeline, but it does not accept the preferred route through the state. A new route would mean some regulatory hurdles for TransCanada ad it will have to secure easements from an entirely new group of landowners. More than 30 organizations are opposing the pipeline, including the Rosebud Sioux Tribe. The tribe has announced that it retained Native American Rights Fund to represent them in their opposition. The Keystone Pipeline would need permission from the Tribe and RST plans to fight the construction tooth and nail.