BY ISN STAFF | February 23, 2017
On Tuesday, February 22, 2017, the Jesuits of the U.S., together with the Red Cloud Indian School on the Pine Ridge Reservation and St. Francis Mission on the Rosebud Reservation, released a statement expressing deep concern surrounding the recent decision of the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers regarding the Dakota Access Pipeline. The decision to issue an easement allowing the pipeline to cross under the Missouri River north of the Standing Rock Sioux Reservation is a direct response to President Trump’s January 24 Presidential Memorandum urging the Army Corps to expedite the review and approval process.
“Suspending the Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) process previously ordered by the Obama Administration, which would have determined the safety, environmental and climate impacts of the pipeline and alternative route crossings, is morally unacceptable,” reads the statement. “It is particularly troubling given the Army Corps’ previous determination that the pipeline crossing affects tribal treaty rights and that more study and consultation with tribes is required.”The Standing Rock Sioux Tribe and the Missouri Tribal Nations have raised significant concerns about potential threats to their water supply and their legitimate rights as sovereign governments to be consulted and heard in the permitting process. Lake Oahe and the Missouri River provide drinking water for the tribe and surrounding regions and millions of people living downstream from the project.
Fr. Timothy Kesicki, S.J., president of the Jesuit Conference of Canada and the United States, said, “Jesuits have been working beside and ministering to native peoples for centuries. We stand in solidarity with native peoples in Standing Rock and around the world who are advocating for environmental and human rights in the face of extractive industry projects. Like Pope Francis, we recognize that water is a fundamental human right.”On Thursday, March 2, 2017, Tashina Rama, executive director of advancement at Red Cloud Indian School in South Dakota will join three other panelists from the Jesuit network at a Congressional briefing on Capitol Hill in Washington, D.C coordinated by ISN and the Jesuits of the United States and Canada, to speak about native and environmental concerns around the Dakota Access Pipeline.
In November, four Red Cloud students attended ISN’s Ignatian Family Teach-In for Justice, where they presented a workshop on impacts of the Dakota Access Pipeline to Teach-In attendees and participated in Ignatian Family Advocacy Day, speaking to their elected officials about this key issue in their community.Robert Brave Heart Sr., executive vice president of Red Cloud Indian School on the Pine Ridge Reservation in South Dakota explains the school’s engagement on this issue: “The DAPL poses a serious threat to the health and well-being of not only the Húnkpapha Lákhota of Standing Rock and other native peoples, but millions of people who depend on the water of the Mníšoše (Missouri River) and the great Hahawakpa (Mississippi River) systems. This is just another example of the many countless acts of genocide, racism and injustices that the indigenous peoples of this continent have endured for the last 500 years. Despite that, we are still here and will continue to fight for our rights, freedom and dignity!”