Haida families who travelled 30 hours to join the North Dakota pipeline protest led by the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe got plenty of support from home.
Haida Nation President Peter Lantin (Kil tlaats ‘gaa) endorsed Skidegate’s Erica Ryan-Gagne, among the first to arrive, and those travelling with her.
“Protecting and stewarding the Missouri River for today and future generations is similar to the struggle our nation is engaged in to protect the oceans that surround Haida Gwaii,” wrote Lantin in a letter of support.
“Water is life, stand strong, stand proud and stay safe,” wrote Duane Alsop, Skidegate’s deputy chief councillor.
The Standing Rock Sioux are protesting the Dakota Access Pipeline, a 1,1770-kilometre pipeline that would carry Bakken Shale oil from North Dakota to Illinois, where it would connect to an existing pipeline leading to refineries on the U.S. Gulf Coast.
The Bakken Shale formation extends over parts of North Dakota, Montana, and southern Saskatchewan.
In July, the Standing Rock Sioux filed a lawsuit against the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, saying the Dakota Access pipeline runs through a sacred burial ground, violates U.S. federal laws, and could leak into the Missouri River that makes up the western border of Sioux territory.
Last Friday, a federal judge rejected the lawsuit, which called for the pipeline work to stop.
But soon after, the U.S. federal government required a pause on the section of pipe that would go under the Missouri, and called for a review of the consultation process led by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers.
A protest camp set up where the Missouri meets the Cannon Ball River has since drawn representatives from over 280 indigenous nations across North America — the largest such gathering in over a century.
Writing on behalf of the Village of Queen Charlotte, Mayor Greg Martin also offered support to Ryan-Gagne, noting that the Dakota protest felt very familiar to Haida Gwaiians.
“Here on our archipelago we have stood united in our opposition to the Enbridge Northern Gateway project,” wrote Martin.
“We support the rights and responsibilities of all Tribes to protect their territory, and we stand with you in unity and peace to oppose this project which would have irreversible impacts to their lands and sacred sites.”