The Dakota pipeline protests have brought treaty rights into the national spotlight. Now the federal government may finally start to honor them.

In what is being hailed as a "historic" move, the Obama administration invited hundreds of Native American tribes on Friday to particpate in consultations in order to find solutions to protect and honor treaty rights and ensure meaningful consultations for any infrastructure project that may affect tribes.

The U.S. Departments of the Army, Interior and Justice sent the invitation for government-to-government consultations following a Sept. 9 decision to halt any construction of the Dakota Access Pipeline on federal lands. The 1,168 mile pipeline extending across four states from North Dakota to Illinois has drawn the ire of Native American tribes who say their treaty, land and cultural rights are being violated by the project - which they say they were also not properly consulted on. As a result, thousands of tribal members from across the country, along with supporters, have been camping out in North Dakota, as well as protesting in other states, in what has been described as the largest Native American mobilization in decades.

“The Obama Administration’s call for national reform on this issue is a historic moment," Standing Rock Sioux Tribal Chairman Dave Archambault II said in a statement, adding, "This invitation is a good start but the government has a lot more to do to permanently protect the millions of people who rely on the Missouri River for water and who are put at serious risk because of this pipeline."

Federal agencies are looking for “meaningful tribal input into infrastructure-related reviews and decisions, to protect tribal lands, resources, and treaty rights.”

“Recent events have highlighted the need for a broader review and consultation as to how prospectively, Federal decision making on infrastructure projects can better allow for timely and meaningful input,” read the letter inviting tribes to a number of consultation sessions around the country.

Many of these issues have been deep and ongoing concerns of groups in opposition to the controversial US$3.7 billion pipeline, which is set to cross federal and private lands in North Dakota, South Dakota, Iowa and Illinois.

Thousands have stood in support of the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe, who say that the pipeline will damage the local environment and contaminate local water supplies, specifically the Missouri River, and run through Native American sacred sites, including burial grounds.

“We have already seen the damage caused by a lack of consultation. The ancient burial sites where our Lakota and Dakota ancestors were laid to rest have been destroyed," said Archambault. "The desecration of family graves is something that most people could never imagine."

The invitation was extended to all 567 federally recognized tribes on behalf of a number of federal agencies, including the Department of the Interior and the Department of Justice.

“We understand that Tribal Nations’ voices must be heard, in a timely and meaningful way, with regard to Federal decisions that could affect their treaties, homelands, environment, cultural properties, and sacred sites,” the joint agency letter said.

The first of seven consultation sessions are planned to start on Oct. 11 across Arizona, Washington, New Mexico, Montana, Minnesota and South Dakota.

Native American tribes and environmentalists have vowed to continue the fight against the pipeline until the project is permanently suspended.

UPDATE: 25 OCT: "We just heard about a meeting going to happen on Tuesday morning at the White House. Tribal leaders and White House ! Discussion on eminent domain on Indian Lands and tribal sovereignty ! Standing Rock Sioux tribe is calling on the Ft Laramie Treaty to call lawful attention to Native rights. We are hopeful this is a good sign .. Know your treaties! Tomorrow is for the Seventh Generation! Wopila "- Information by Billy Mills

Responses to "The White House Wants Government Consultations with 567 Native American Tribes"

  1. The desecration of Indian lands by money powers is what Lincoln feared 1864. Our society has become indifferent to the rights protected by
    Constitutional mandate and now threatens our entire way of life. I stand with the tribes shuttung down the
    pipeline sending the right message for
    America to get off fossil fuels for both environmental and economic reasons with benefits for the planet and it's people.

  2. Unknown says:

    It's time that the White House listen the words of the Natives!!...they deserves that finally......

  3. I am praying for all the tribes. I want the pipeline to be replaced THROUGH downtown DC where it belongs. I want tribes to fight back if necessary. Alot of us are also part Native American. When have you heard them ask for "payback" or they are mad. Very seldom. Compared them to the Syrians that are trying to become naturalized citizens which is illegal and unfair to the ones that are trying to do it the right way. I object and I am tired of those with all the money win. I think that both Clintons need to be stripped of their pensions and forced to live like normal grounded and lower middle class people. Atleast for 5 years. Let's see how they do on a minimum wage job and watch them waste the money they have while not carying a damn about our Vets. I am done now.

  4. kjk4Peace says:

    Lineal descendents of the Solano Tribal People recognized in the 1716 name given in regards Mission Solano del Rio San Antonio Tejas concur, it is time to enter into dialogue.

  5. Unknown says:

    The world is watching and demanding that the pipeline(S) be stopped, with First Nations RIGHTS respected.
    Not that the U.S. has a good reputation in the world today, but this whole thing is causing what may to left of it to decline even further.

  6. Jim says:

    The only thing I can say is even if it is in writing, do not take the government at it's word. They have never kept it, and do not relax your vigilance at all, because that has always been their m.o., to keep your attention in one direction and sneak and attack from another. Read the Constitution and Bill of Rights carefully, especially the parts concerning natives, and you will realize why promises and treaties have never been taken seriously or kept.

  7. Kit Jones says:

    GREAT! Let's start with defeating the Trans-Pacific "Partnership/TPP," the Transatlantic Trade and Investment "Partnership/TTIP," and the Trade in Services "Agreement/TiSA"! THAT would be a winning trifecta of treaties killed so that Democracy and Sovereignty will live.

  8. Anonymous says:

    The minute you go to this consultation that when they call it government to government consultation. And then they will start right away building this pipeline. Even though no matter what you say or demand they are going to build This pipeline. Remember that they only have a small right away and they been over stepping at by arresting people off that right away and setting up those road blocks we all pay are taxes too. They have no right blocking roads. I'm hoping the best,

  9. It's simply shame to see people of all nations, non-natives and other diverse people being treated so unjustly for peaceful protesting something so valuable, such as water, soil,plants and human life. Where is the politicians on this important historical event? Thank you people of North Dakota and surrounding states and countries for standing up for something that is the circle of the universe, our water. I pray for your victory and hope that someday we all can learn from solidarity.

  10. I am very concerned about the unjust sentences that may be placed on people who are committed nonviolent defenders of all of our progeny...people are being charged with things like resisting arrest(a common one for people of color) destruction of property(for people who have locked themselves to equipment, not actually damaging equipment) which can lead to sentences of up to 45 years. The World is Watching.

  11. Anonymous says:

    The talks must include the need to release Leonard Peltier which is closely related because his imprisonment has been symbolic to government of all efforts to protest and protect, and symbolic of government's refusal to consult and to honor treaties. mg

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