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Tribal chairman asks U.N. commission to oppose Dakota Access Pipeline

Dave Archambault II, chairman of the Standing Rock Sioux tribe, waits to give his speech against the Energy Transfer Partners' Dakota Access oil pipeline during the Human Rights Council at the United Nations in Geneva, Switzerland, Sept. 20, 2016. REUTERS/Denis Balibouse

BISMARCK, N.D. — Standing Rock Sioux Tribe Chairman Dave Archambault II on Tuesday, Sept. 20, brought the fight against the Dakota Access Pipeline to Geneva, Switzerland, asking members of the United Nations Human Rights Commission to condemn “the deliberate destruction of our sacred places.”

Archambault told the commission the 1,172-mile, $3.8 billion pipeline that would move 450,000 barrels of crude daily from the Bakken oil fields to a hub in Illinois “threatens our communities, the river and the earth.”

The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers has paused pipeline construction where it would cross Lake Oahe – a dammed section of the Missouri River – less than a mile north of the Standing Rock Sioux Reservation in south-central North Dakota until the Corps can determine whether it should reconsider its previous decisions about the lake crossing. The tribe is suing the Corps for permitting the pipeline, claiming the tribe wasn’t properly consulted.

“Our nation is working to protect our waters and our sacred places for the benefit of our children not yet born. But the oil companies and the government of the United States have failed to respect our sovereign rights,” Archambault told the commission in a video shared by the tribe.

Archambault made multiple mentions of the destruction of sacred sites and burial grounds, referring to how Dakota Access bulldozed a section of pipeline route on Sept. 3 that the tribe had identified a day earlier in a court filing as containing graves and other sacred sites.

“This company has also used attack dogs to harm individuals who tried to protect our water and sacred sites,” he said, referring to the violent clash Sept. 3 between protesters who broke through a fence onto the construction site and the pipeline’s private security personnel armed with guard dogs and pepper spray.

Archambault said a child was bitten and injured by a guard dog. Dakota Access has said in court filings that several security personnel were attacked by protesters and that the construction didn’t destroy any important historical sites.

Archambault called on the commission and its members “to condemn the destruction of our sacred places and to support our nation’s efforts to ensure that our sovereign rights are respected.”

“We ask that you call upon all parties to stop the construction of Dakota Access Pipeline and to protect the environment, our nation’s future, our culture and our way of life,” he said.

The Morton County Sheriff’s Department announced Tuesday that it’s leading a joint task force involving the state Bureau of Criminal Investigation and the federal Bureau of Indian Affairs to investigate the Sept. 3 incident, including the protesters, private security and whether any artifacts were disturbed.

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