Archeologists denounce Dakota Access pipeline for destroying artifacts
Coalition of 1,200 archeologists, museum directors and historians say
$3.8bn Dakota Access pipeline disturbs Native American artifacts in
Archeologists and museum directors have denounced the “destruction” of
Native American artifacts during the construction of a contentious oil
pipeline in North Dakota, as the affected tribe condemned the project in
an address to the United Nations.
The $3.8bn Dakota Access pipeline, which will funnel oil from the Bakken
oil fields in the Great Plains to Illinois, will run next to the
Standing Rock Sioux reservation. The tribe has mounted a legal challenge
to stop the project and claimed that several sacred sites were bulldozed
by Energy Transfer, the company behind the pipeline, on 3 September.
A coalition of more than 1,200 archeologists, museum directors and
historians from institutions including the Smithsonian and the
Association of Academic Museums and Galleries has written to the Obama
administration to criticize the bulldozing, which Energy Transfer claims
did not disturb any artifacts.
The letter states that the construction work destroyed “ancient burial
sites, places of prayer and other significant cultural artifacts sacred
to the Lakota and Dakota people”.
It adds: “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 Obama administration has halted construction of the 1,170-mile
pipeline that occurs on federal land while it reassesses the initial
decision by the Army Corps of Engineers to allow the project to proceed.
The approval sparked furious protests at a camp near the North Dakota
construction site but Energy Transfer has vowed to push ahead after a
federal judge sided with the company.
“What the Standing Rock Sioux are going through is just one example of a
systemic and historical truth around how extractive and polluting
infrastructure is forced upon Native communities,” said James Powell,
former president and director of the Los Angeles County Natural History
“It is long past time for us to abandon fossil fuel projects that harm
native communities and threaten the future of our planet.”
The Standing Rock Sioux tribe has taken its case to the UN, addressing
the human rights commission in Geneva on Tuesday. Dave Archambault II,
chairman of the tribe, said that Energy Transfer has shown “total
disregard for our rights and our sacred sites”.
“Thousands have gathered peacefully in Standing Rock in solidarity
against the pipeline,” Archambault told commission members. “And yet
many water protectors have been threatened and even injured by the
pipeline’s security officers. One child was bitten and injured by a
guard dog. We stand in peace but have been met with violence.”
Archambault said the pipeline violates the UN’s declaration on the
rights of indigenous peoples and called on the UN to use its “influence
and international platform” to help the tribe.
Energy Transfer did not respond to a request for comment. The company
has previously denounced “threats and attacks” perpetrated upon its
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