The Tribune Democrat, Johnstown, PA


September 19, 2012

PHOTOS | Keystone pipeline's path cuts across Native American land, history


CUSHING, Okla. —

It said that the "sacred site," which was first excavated by archaeologists in 1931, "contains burials and specific artifacts of ceremonial use along with iconographic images on artifacts that are of utmost importance to the history of the Caddo people."

TransCanada's Thompson said the pipeline route in that location has been moved and that the Caddo council approved a resolution supporting the project. Cast, who is still marking up pipeline maps so that TransCanada can avoid sensitive areas, said "it's not so much that we're in support of the pipeline, but we're in support of working together to make sure our interests are looked after."

The route has inadvertent historical echoes, too. From northern Nebraska through Kansas, it is almost identical to what is known as the trail of tears for the Ponca Tribe. The Poncas, who in the 19th century did almost everything the federal government asked including attending church and farming, were still forced to move to Oklahoma.

A history of broken promises, and treaties, has fueled opposition, especially in South Dakota. Last October, a group of Indians were ejected from a speech by President Obama after shouting that the president should respect the tribes and stop the pipeline. On Feb. 18, the Black Hills Sioux Nation Treaty Council demanded that Obama and Congress prevent construction of the Keystone pipeline

"The Great Sioux Nation hereby directs President Barack Obama and the United States Congress to honor the promises of the United States made through the 1851 and 1868 Fort Laramie treaties by prohibiting the proposed Keystone XL Pipeline and any future projects from entering and destroying our land without our consent," said a resolution approved by all seven delegations.

The Fort Laramie treaties ceded all of South Dakota west of the Missouri River to the Lakota tribes, or Sioux. While legislation has reduced the size of that reservation, the treaties were never revoked. Baker, the lawyer, says they should still be considered in force.

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