A Louisiana-Dakota connection

The distance between Louisiana and South Dakota is many miles, far more than a thousand. But in years the problems between the Sioux and related people are much closer, because time can be far more compressed than distance, spanning as it does only a matter of generations and human earth lifetimes.

These problems between the Sioux people and the U.S. government are like that, just a few generations old, and if you do the homework it is not difficult to see that the time of the shooting of Sitting Bull, the massacre of the people doing the Ghost Dance, and the other atrocities that include bending and violation of treaties, happened not so long ago. The problems relating to a specific Sioux people, those of Standing Rock, are the subject of a very recent controversy, which is by no means ended but which is, for now, on hold. It is nowhere near as easy as it all sounds, this dispute over the Dakota Access Pipeline. The native people, who fear for their water and their already fragile future, as well as the future of the earth itself,



are marking the most recent action by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers as a victory, if a tenuous one. The dispute is far from over. But there is a difference between the will of a people being steamrolled and the opportunity to be fairly heard, and a fair hearing is what may finally take place.

Such a victory is empowering to people who lost their power long ago, and this is hated by people who identify with the power takers, those who can always shape an argument to favor profit. It is empowering to people who live beyond the boundaries of South Dakota, including a tribe of native people right here in Terrebonne Parish.

Chief Shirell Parfait-Dardar and the Tribal Council of the Grand Caillou/Dulac Band of Biloxi-Chitimacha-Choctaw people sent a letter under their imprimatur, back in September, to the President of the United States, his chief of staff, and to Jo-Ellen Darcy, Assistant Secretary of the Army for Civil Works.



It says that they, the Dulac people, oppose the plans to run the Dakota Access pipeine through lands that would jeopardize the waters and lands sacred to the Sioux.

“We stand in solidarity and support of the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe and other communities in their fight against this dangerous and destructive pipeline,” the council and chief wrote. “Oil pipelines break, spill and leak—it’s not a question of if, it’s a question of where and when. In fact, a route close to Bismarck was deemed not viable due to its proximity to Bismarck, and the fact that the route crossed through or in close proximity to several wellhead source water protection areas, including areas that contribute water to municipal water supply wells. Yet despite these real consequences, the Army Corps of Engineers never took a hard look at the impacts of an oil spill on the tribe, as the law requires. No explanation has been provided as to why the health of, and protection of water resources on which, Standing Rock Sioux Tribal members depend are any less significant or vital as those of the City of Bismarck … Instead, now the pipeline is set to run through land that is sacred to the tribe. Federal law requires that sacred places be protected in consultation with the tribe, but the Corps has not complied with that requirement, either. We ask that the Administration take a step back and slow down its consideration of the Dakota Access Pipeline—the Corps must carefully consider all of the impacts to the tribe before issuing any approvals. The Dakota Access pipeline does not have the easement from the Corps of Engineers to cross Lake Oahe. As the trustee to the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe and all tribes, do not grant the final easement until further review of the project is guaranteed. Your administration has a treaty and trust responsibility to protect all Indian nations’ water resources and must take action now to ensure the Standing Rock Sioux Tribes rights are recognized and resources are safeguarded for future generations.”

That is the request that was met earlier this week.



The Dulac band are not the first or the only native people in this country to stand in solidarity with the Sioux. They did it with a letter. Others have done it with their bodies, actually traveling to South Dakota to take part in protests there.

All who did are listed in a document of support that names the peoples’ groups. The Dulac people are number 51 on that list, say it is one they are proud to be a part of.