White House

Tribes’ message to Obama: Help us block the Dakota pipeline

“What all tribes want to leave to the next generations are our lands, waters, natural resources and sacred places,” said Brian Cladoosby, chairman of the Swinomish Tribe in Washington state and a key opponent of the proposed Dakota Access Pipeline. Cladoosby, left, met President Obama, center, and Dow Constantine, right, on the tarmac when Obama arrived on Air Force One at Seattle-Tacoma International Airport, on June 24, 2016.
“What all tribes want to leave to the next generations are our lands, waters, natural resources and sacred places,” said Brian Cladoosby, chairman of the Swinomish Tribe in Washington state and a key opponent of the proposed Dakota Access Pipeline. Cladoosby, left, met President Obama, center, and Dow Constantine, right, on the tarmac when Obama arrived on Air Force One at Seattle-Tacoma International Airport, on June 24, 2016. AP

Tribal leaders cheered last year when President Barack Obama sided with them in blocking a Canadian company’s bid to build the Keystone XL energy pipeline, or “the black snake,” as it was called by many.

They’re banking on his support again, this time to stop the Dakota Access Pipeline. Tribal leaders say the proposed 1,172 pipeline that would carry oil from North Dakota to Illinois would jeopardize sacred sites and burial grounds of the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe.

What all tribes want to leave to the next generations are our lands, waters, natural resources and sacred places. When these are lost, it does irreversible harm to our tribes. The world is watching.

Brian Cladoosby, chairman of the Swinomish Tribe in Washington state and president of the National Congress of American Indians

Obama will face the issue on Monday when he hosts his eighth and final White House Tribal Nations Conference, a two-day event that’s expected to draw more than 500 tribal leaders from around the country.

Standing Rock Sioux Tribal Chairman David Archambault II is scheduled to give tribal leaders an update on the pipeline during a “preparatory meeting” on Sunday morning.

Brian Cladoosby, chairman of the Swinomish Tribe in Washington state and president of the National Congress of American Indians, is among the strongest opponents.

In a speech in Washington, D.C., earlier this month to the White House Council on Native American Affairs, Cladoosby said that tribal leaders are looking forward to meeting again with Obama and “to secure the progress and the strong legacy that he is leaving in Indian Country.”

And he said the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe has become “the symbol for many in a way that has brought Indian Country together.”

“What all tribes want to leave to the next generations are our lands, waters, natural resources and sacred places,” he said. “When these are lost, it does irreversible harm to our tribes. The world is watching.”

Obama plans to address the tribal leaders Monday afternoon.

Rob Hotakainen: 202-383-6154, @HotakainenRob

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