It’s getting harder and harder to take seriously any of the claims coming from the #NoDAPL protesters, up to and including the figurehead of the movement Standing Rock Sioux tribal chairman David Archambault.
We keep hearing claims from the protesters which turn out to be gross exaggerations, at best, or flat out fabrications at worse.
The latest eye-roll-worthy moment came this week after a tour of a controversial segment of the Dakota Access Pipeline where Archambault has claimed that human remains and cultural artifacts have been destroyed.
It was this claim of destroyed graves/artifacts which prompted #NoDAPL protesters to riot, break down a fence, and attack a group of pipeline security officers back on September 3.
But keep in mind that this area has been inspected by state and federal historians and archaeologists, most recently back in September, with none of the inspections finding anything like what Archambault is claiming. It’s also worth remembering that, in this area, the Dakota Access will be buried alongside existing infrastructure including power lines and the Northern Border gas pipeline.
[mks_pullquote align=”right” width=”300″ size=”24″ bg_color=”#ffffff” txt_color=”#000000″]Archambault, though, disagreed. Because he found a fragment of bone which he initially said might be human but turned out to be animal when examined by professionals.[/mks_pullquote]
The construction of those projects also happened after surveys for human remains and/or cultural artifacts, and in the case of the gas pipeline it was built after the Standing Rock tribe specifically raised no objections.
Archambault is trying to claim that there are human remains and cultural artifacts on top of an existing pipeline which only members of the #NoDAPL movement can find.
Excuse me if that’s a little hard to believe.
But back to this week’s tour. It consisted of 30 people including North Dakota Congressman Kevin Cramer, Archambault, U.S. Corps of Engineers Omaha District Commander Col. John Henderson, Standing Rock Sioux Tribal Historic Preservation Officer John Eagle, North Dakota State Historic Preservation Officer Paul Picha, Cheyenne River Sioux archaeologists and other tribal cultural and historical specialists.
In a statement after the tour Cramer called it “an invaluable relationship-building experience that helped us better understand North Dakota’s cultural landscape.”
“I hope this can help us establish a better understanding going forward,” he said in a press release. “And, I am certain that after today the Corps of Engineers will feel confident it has the adequate affirmation to issue the final easement to complete the pipeline construction across the Missouri River at Lake Oahe.”
Archambault, though, disagreed. Because he found a fragment of bone which he initially said might be human but turned out to be animal when examined by professionals.
[mks_pullquote align=”left” width=”300″ size=”24″ bg_color=”#ffffff” txt_color=”#000000″]This smacks of desperation. It seems as though every time more evidence comes out which undermines the arguments #NoDAPL activists are making they simply make the same arguments again, only more shrilly.[/mks_pullquote]
Still, Archambault said the find should be enough to halt all work on the pipeline. “Standing Rock Sioux Tribal Chairman Dave Archambault II, who participated in the tour, called Friday for an immediate stop to construction and a full investigation after a bone fragment was found during the tour near an area identified by a former tribal historian as a sacred prayer and burial site,” Mike Nowatzki reported.
This smacks of desperation. It seems as though every time more evidence comes out which undermines the arguments #NoDAPL activists are making they simply make the same arguments again, only more shrilly.
The Standing Rock Sioux tribe did not engage with state officials, including the Public Service Commission, when this pipeline was being permitted. Nor did they engage with federal officials when the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers was going through their review and approval process. Now, after years of bureaucracy and billions of private dollars invested, they want the whole project scuttled based on evidence they simply cannot produce and allegations which grow thinner by the day.
Not only is Archambault hurting his own credibility, but he’s diminishing what credibility his tribe might have to speak out on future projects.
Archambault is welcome to his opinion of the Dakota Access Pipeline, but he doesn’t get to derail the project and undermine the rule of law with nothing on his side but tissue-thin complaints made in concert with environmental extremists.