For Immediate Release
TAHOLAH, WA ()—The Quinault Indian Nation has written to Governor Jack Dalrymple and Lt. Governor Drew Wrigley of North Dakota, United States Attorney General Loretta Lynch and Assistant Secretary of the Army Jo-Ellen Darcy in support of water protectors opposing the Dakota Annex Pipeline, according to Quinault President Fawn Sharp.
“The Quinault Nation stands in solidarity with the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe,” said President Sharp. The protest has drawn the attention and actions of more than 200 tribes. More than 2,000 water protectors have been on-site and support rallies have been conducted in cities across the country.
“The situation at Standing Rock is a prime example of the need to fundamentally change relationships between the United States and Tribal Nations. For years, we have sought to resolve concerns through open, respectful dialogue. The United States has a responsibility and duty to honor our treaties which are part of the supreme law of the land under the Constitution and to work with us on a government-to-government basis. That responsibility includes protection from the types of out-of-control, militaristic actions being taken against peaceful protestors in North Dakota. The protestors are seeking to prevent catastrophic damage to water and cultural resources and the right to be consulted and engage in meaningful dialogue before irreparable harm occurs. To us, a meaningful relationship is defined by a mutual understanding that no one sovereign can take unilateral action affecting the lands, territories, or people of another sovereign and certainly not over that sovereign’s objections and without the other's consent. We need real progress and acknowledgment of and respect for sovereign rights and true adherence to our treaties and the Federal Trust Responsibility. A true dialogue between sovereign nations is an absolute necessity. Quinault formally requested a government-to-government discussion on our proposed framework with the Obama Administration three years ago. We are still awaiting their response,” said Sharp.
The late Joe DeLaCruz, long time President of Quinault Nation once said, “"No right is more sacred to a nation, to a people, than the right to freely determine its social, economic, political and cultural future without external interference. The fullest expression of this right occurs when a nation freely governs itself. We call the exercise of this right self-determination. The practice of this right is self-government."
“It’s time for tribes to receive the respect, acknowledgment and treatment we deserve as the sovereign governments we are, and always have been. The civil rights violations taking place in North Dakota—the arrests, the gassing, the clubbing—is outside interference with our constitutionally supported nation-to-nation relationship with the United States. It must be stop,” said Sharp.
The Quinault letter to Governor Dalrymple and Lt. Governor Wrigley, signed by Sharp, urged the recall of the National Guard and a halt of the interference with the protestors’ First Amendment Constitutional rights to free speech. “The presence of the National Guard has escalated violence and put human safety at risk. Your immediate action is critical to de-escalate the violence and safeguard the lives of all of those present,” it said.
The letter to Attorney General Lynch urged immediate action to protect the safety of those protesting the devastation to their sacred land and to help reduce tensions by sending observers to the protest site. It said this would help safeguard the protectors of water and land, and will protect their First Amendment Constitutional rights to free speech. “Your action is critical to fulfilling your trust and treaty obligations to protect tribal lands, waters, and sacred places,” wrote President Sharp.
The letter to Assistant Secretary Darcy called for an immediate Stop Work Order halting construction within a mile between Highway 1806 and the Missouri River to protect the safety of those protesting the devastation to their sacred land. “We urge that a temporary Stop Work Order remain in effect until the Army Corps of Engineers makes its decision regarding the Lake Oahe easement. Such action will de-escalate the violence and safeguard the lives of all of those present. Your action is critical to fulfilling your trust and treaty obligations to protect tribal lands, waters, and sacred places,” wrote Sharp.
The Quinault letters were mailed yesterday. National Congress of American Indians, which represents 550 tribes nationwide, had issued the following statement., the
"The actions by law enforcement in North Dakota are shocking and the NCAI community is at a loss trying to grasp the events of yesterday's attack on protectors gathered to defend water rights, lands, and sacred places. We are working closely with the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe as they strive for peace during this difficult time. The Army Corps has a tremendous amount of responsibility for this conflict. Despite federal laws and Executive Order, the permitting process for the Dakota Access Pipeline was anything but transparent, tribal consultation did not occur, and even the Department of the Interior's concerns over tribal water supplies and cultural resources were ignored. We call on the Army Corps of Engineers to deploy an immediate "stop order" on the Dakota Access Pipeline, deny the easement, and conduct a full environmental impact study. We also call on the Department of Justice to take immediate steps to ensure the safety of thousands of Native protectors and allies. We will not stand for the continued violation of our First Amendment rights and Tribal Sovereign rights. Enough is enough."
CONTACT: Steve Robinson