Lakota protest XL pipeline

WANBLEE, S.D.--Some 75 Oglala Lakota activists blockaded trucks carrying Keystone XL Pipeline material from going through the Pine Ridge Indian Reservation in South Dakota on March 5. The pipeline, which the Obama administration announced in November that it was putting on hold, would carry oil from the Alberta, Canada, tar sands all the way to Houston, Texas.

The standoff lasted more than six hours and ended with five Lakota being arrested. Protesters who were blocking the road held signs that said "Honor the Treaties" and "Stop the Pipeline."

When news came out that the pipeline would go through the reservation, specifically the town of Wanblee, the local radio station KILI put the word out:

Calling all Lakota Men on the Pine Ridge Reservation to come to Wanblee S.D.

XL Pipeline trucks are being held there at the border by our Lakota Oyate [people], OST police and state troopers in an effort to keep them from entering our territory. Even the state troopers told the trucks they have to turn around and cannot bring their...pipeline or other materials on to our reservation.

The XL Pipeline trucks are refusing to turn around, claiming they have corporate rights that supercede any other laws. Olowan Sara Martinez, Debra White Plume, Grandma Marie Randall and others are there holding their ground.

Debra White Plume, one of the activist arrested, told the Censored News blog:

There were about 75 people on the blockade, people brought pots of soup, fry bread, cases of water, doughnuts and soda, and parked their cars to join the blockade. The oldest woman there was Marie Randall. Another elder was Ione Bad Cob, who came in her wheelchair and participated in the blockade.

She went on to say, "We oppose the tar sands oil mine in solidarity with Mother Earth and our First Nation allies." The sentiment on Pine Ridge and in most native communities is that the XL Pipeline will threaten sacred lands and continue to harm the land.

This all comes with the backdrop of the Obama administration being forced to stop the pipeline late last year because of continued protest. However, Obama merely asked for TransCanada, the corporation pushing the pipeline, to reapply for the permit. It seems that TransCanada will continue to push the pipeline until it is approved.

TransCanada has no respect for the law or tribal sovereignty. The only way to officially stop the project is through a mass movement that opposes it. Actions such as the one at Pine Ridge shows that there are those who are interested in continuing this fight.