Oceti Sakowin Tribal Members Sue Trump Administration to Block Dakota Access Pipeline

Washington, DCCivil liberties group RevolutionTruth along with lead counsel Bruce Afran filed an emergency lawsuit motion this evening in US District Court on behalf of nearly a dozen plaintiffs from several Oceti Sakowin (Great Sioux Nation) tribes. The plaintiffs in Jumping Eagle v. Trump demand an immediate halt to Dakota Access Pipeline (DAPL) construction beneath Lake Oahe, which provides them water for drinking, agriculture and sacred ceremonies, as well as drinking water for nearly 20 million people downriver.

“By forcing the US Army Corps to essentially refute its own conclusions and end its review, President Trump effectively ordered it to grant the Lake Oahe easement,” said Bruce Afran, lead counsel on Jumping Eagle v. Trump. “This is direct interference by the President into the authority and mission of an independent expert agency.”

Site where the final phase of the Dakota Access Pipeline will take place with boring equipment routing the pipeline underground and across Lake Oahe. | Photo: Tom Stromme, AP

Running DAPL beneath Lake Oahe ignores the serious risks noted by pipeline-construction experts and places a disproportionate burden on historically marginalized populations. The plaintiffs claim that DAPL construction underneath Lake Oahe threatens their fundamental religious rights and rights of freedom from racial and environmental discrimination.

A water protector holds a branch of cedar during a prayer ceremony on Backwater Bridge during a protest against the Dakota Access pipeline | Photo: Stephanie Keith, Reuters

This suit joins an existing legal action by the Cheyenne River and Standing Rock Sioux tribes and claims that President Trump violated Federal Law by denying proper review of environmental and religious rights issues surrounding the controversial pipeline, effectively preventing affected tribal members from submitting expert reports on the environmental and cultural risks associated with the pipeline’s crossing of sacred Sioux Nation lands and beneath Lake Oahe. The lawsuit thus seeks damages from President Trump for illegally blocking the due process rights of tribal members.

Oral arguments for an injunction halting construction and transfer of oil under Lake Oahe are expected to be heard at 11am tomorrow, February 28, 2017, in front of Judge James E. Boasberg in US District Court.

Read the Motion to Intervene filed in US Court HERE
Read Exhibit A; Proposed Complaint of Intervenors HERE
Read Exhibit B; Declaration of Chani Phillips HERE
Read Exhibit B1; Declaration of Maxine Brings Him Back Janis HERE