OST to bar TransCanada from Pine Ridge Reservation
By Brandon Ecoffey
Native Sun News Managing Editor
PINE RIDGE — The Oglala Sioux Tribe’s Health and Human Services committee has passed a resolution reasserting the tribe’s opposition to the Keystone XL Pipeline by passing a resolution barring TransCanada official Phil Fontaine from entering its territory.
Fontaine is a former Assembly of First Nations chief, who last December accepted a position with the TransCanada Corporation. TransCanada is the Calgary based energy company that is developing and operating energy infrastructure across North America. They are also the company responsible for the development of the controversial Keystone XL pipeline.
The energy company has been under enormous scrutiny for its product, assumed environmental impact as well as the legal leeway it has been granted by American courts. In 2012 a Texas Judge ruled that TransCanada has the legal right of eminent domain and can acquire land from owners who refuse to sign an agreement to give the company a right-away on their property to the company. They have also been accused of reporting potentially resistant landowners in the U.S. to the Office of Homeland Security.
Fontaine’s position with the company requires him to go to Indigenous Nations across America and explain the company’s position on the KXL pipeline, however last week at an event at the University of Winnipeg he was met by significant protestors who refused to allow him to finish his speech. Fontaine defended himself in a statement to the Canadian Press. He said, “Have I been satisfied with everything that I’ve learned? Absolutely not. Have I expressed those views with industry? Absolutely, (The protest) was not one of our shining moments as an aboriginal community.”
The Oglala Sioux Tribe has been opposed to the pipeline and has made every effort to make their position clear. Oglala Sioux Tribal President Bryan Brewer told representatives of the U.S. State Department that if the pipeline makes its way towards Lakota Country that, “We are ready to fight the pipeline and our horses are ready.”
The resolution passed in the Health and Human Services committee of the Oglala Sioux Tribe also said that they were greatly opposed to the pipeline by passing the resolution.
“We are taking a step that we don’t want him here speaking to anybody. We want to ban him from even trying to promote the Keystone XL pipeline. Every committee and council person is opposed to this pipeline and we do not want him around here talking to our people,” said Lydia Bear Killer, chairperson of the tribe’s health and human services department. “A lot of people come to our reservation with information that isn’t always accurate. They sell things real easy to our people and we need to protect our environment and or water for the future generations,” Bear Killer said.
The council is expected to vote on the resolution at this week’s council meeting.