LOCAL BRIEFS: April 2017

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N.D. OIL SPILL CONSIDERED AMONG WORST IN N.D. HISTORY

BELFIELD, ND – The Belle Fourche Pipeline spilled about 530,000 gallons of crude oil into Ash Coulee Creek, a tributary of the Missouri River, according to a March 23 update to a state incident report – far larger than the original estimate of about 176,400 gallons.

But the new figure doesn’t include an ongoing leak into the hillside near the pipeline, The Williston Herald reported. Although the spill has been contained, oil continues to leak in that area, more than three months after it began.

DAKOTA ACCESS CONFIRMS PIPE-LINE READY FOR SERVICE

CANNON BALL, ND –Construction on the Dakota Access Pipeline is complete and the project will soon be going into service. A status report filed in federal court on March 27 confirms that crude oil has been placed underneath Lake Oahe along the Missouri River.

“Oil has been placed in the Dakota Access Pipeline underneath Lake Oahe,” attorneys wrote in the two-page document. “Dakota Access is currently commissioning the full pipeline and is preparing to place the pipeline into service.”

With work now complete, the wealthy backers of the pipeline no longer plan to provide status reports “unless other-wise directed by the court,” the attorneys wrote.

The last update had been submitted on March 20 but almost all of it was redacted so there was no way for the public to know for sure how close the pipeline was to being fully operational.

INDIAN COUNTRY MOUNTS ANOTHER FIGHT AFTER TRUMP APPROVES ANOTHER PIPELINE

ST. PAUL, MN – Indian Country is preparing for another round of resistance after the Trump administration approved the Keystone XL Pipeline without consulting tribes.

Tribes and grassroots activists thought the controversial crude oil pipeline was dead when former president Barack Obama rejected a necessary permit back in November 2015. The 1,200-mile route, which runs through treaty territory, crosses sacred and historic sites, and impacts tribal water resources was considered a detriment to the environment.

But everything changed once Trump came into power. Four days after taking office, he invited the Canadian firm behind the project to resubmit its application for the permit. Just two months later, the State Department announced the approval of the presidential permit. Although the record of decision insists tribes were consulted, it acknowledged those efforts occurred during the Obama era.

FDL RECEIVES GRANT FOR COMBATING SEX TRAFFICKING

ST. PAUL, MN – The Department of Public Safety Office of Justice Programs has awarded a Sex Trafficking Investigation and Training Grant to the Fond du Lac Band of Ojibwe to invest in a Sex Trafficking Investigator.

Sex trafficking is a major concern for Minnesota law enforcement.

N.D. REPUBLICAN PUSHS BILL FOR NON-INDIAN CASINOS

BISMARCK, ND – A proposal to authorize up to six non-Indian casinos in North Dakota continues to generate controversy.

Tribal leaders and Democrats immediately slammed the proposal as punishment for opposition to the Dakota Access Pipeline. But criticism hasn’t stopped Rep. Al Carlson (R), the top Republican in the House, from continuing to push the bill.

After the House Judiciary Committee issued a “do not pass” recommendation in March, Carlson amended the measure. The changes would bar casinos within 40 miles of a reservation and require the casinos to be operated by private entities, rather than by the state.

But those changes failed to get it passed. While the committee approved the amendment, members issued a “do not pass” recommendation on House Concurrent Resolution 3033.

PILOT KNOB NAMED TO NAT’L REGISTER OF HISTORIC PLACES

MINNEAPOLIS, MN – On March 14, 112 acres of Pilot Knob were added to the National Register of Historic Places. It’s a designation more than a decade in the making.

The land was a Native gathering place and sacred burial grounds, earning its Dakota name “Oheyawahi,” or the “hill much visited.”

American Indians signed away land to the U.S. government in the 1851 Treaty of Mendota.

In 2002 a developer was given conditional approval by the Mendota Heights City Council to build 150 town-homes on 25 acres. Dakota and Ojibwe communities, historians, archaeologists, environmental organizations and area residents organized to protect the site.