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General News    H3'ed 9/7/16

Hey Judge! How About Protecting the Chief Buried in the Big Dipper?

Georgianne Nienaber
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Cannonball ND--How a Pipeline is Destroying the Stonehenge of the Midwest

U.S. District Judge Boasberg has granted in part and denied in part the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe's request to temporarily stop work on a portion of the $3.8 billion Dakota Access Pipeline. At issue is the Sioux Nation's attempt to protect ancient prayer and burial grounds.

Judge Boasberg said that work will temporarily stop between State Highway 1806 and 20 miles east of Lake Oahe, but that work will continue west of the highway. At issue is whether The United States Army Corps of Engineers has any jurisdiction on the private land.

This means that the site of mass grave and artifact desecration by contractors at the site of a violent confrontation between protestors and Energy Transfer Inc.'s security forces over the holiday weekend is not resolved. Women and children were maced, pepper sprayed, and attacked by security dogs, according to Tribal Leaders. Tribal Chairman David Archambault II said in a press release, "Sacred places containing ancient burial sites, places of prayer and other significant cultural artifacts of the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe were destroyed Saturday by Energy Transfer Partners.

A mere 75 feet from the edge of the DAPL pipeline corridor lies Iyokaptan Tanka, the Big Dipper. Source: Case 1:16-cv-01534-JEB Document 29-1 Filed 09/02/16 Page 4 of 11

Big Dipper Stones
Big Dipper Stones
(Image by Court Documents)
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This stone feature, which is a physical depiction of a constellation across a large area, is very rare to find within the Great Plains and within Oceti Sakowin homelands. This is only the third time I have seen one identified and recorded during my lifetime. I know how much importance the Elders and spiritual advisors place on this star constellation, this constellation was a measuring stick for leadership, who fasted or vision quested in the "cup" of the Big Dipper to make the ultimate commitment to the people. This is the last level to attain as a Chief and very few Chiefs made it to the seventh level in leadership, as I have been told. Only a Chief or Itancha can stand in the cup of the Dipper.

To find a grave attached to the cup means the leader was "was beyond reproach." This is one of the most significant archeological finds in North Dakota in many years.

In a letter to the Tribe in February 2015, the Army Corps of Engineers asked the Standing Rock tribe to participate in identification of historical and religious sites, but the USACE never followed up on subsequent tribal responses. This is the heart of the lawsuit currently in Federal District Court.

Our regulations define the extent of the federal action as the "permit area" (33 CFR Part 325, Appendix C). This definition requires some interpretation but generally for pipelines it includes waters of the U.S. and adjacent upland areas that are dependent on the location of the crossing. The project proponent is conducting Class 111 surveys for cultural resources along the route. Proper identification of all historic properties, including sites of religious and cultural significance, or traditional cultural properties (TCP}, in the permit area is an essential element of those surveys.

I have a question for the Judge. How could he allow construction to continue on private land, endangering a significant historical find, when the "rules" include "upland areas dependent on the location of the crossing?"

Is private land really protected? If private land IS protected from common sense laws protecting antiquities, how about the courts and landowners at least showing some respect to the ancestors, especially the Chief buried there in the cup of the Big Dipper.

You know, Judge, the man who was 'beyond reproach."

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Georgianne Nienaber is an investigative environmental and political writer. She lives in rural northern Minnesota and South Florida. Her articles have appeared in The Society of Professional Journalists' Online Quill Magazine, the Huffington (more...)

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