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Wash. Tribe Joins Protest of Dakota Access Pipeline

Quinault Indian Nation President Fawn Sharp says the proposed Dakota Access Pipeline raises concerns for native communities across the United States. (Jared King/Navajo Nation Washington Office)
Quinault Indian Nation President Fawn Sharp says the proposed Dakota Access Pipeline raises concerns for native communities across the United States. (Jared King/Navajo Nation Washington Office)
September 7, 2016

SEATTLE - Members of a Washington tribe are joining native communities across the country, protesting a pipeline they say threatens tribal lands and the environment in the Midwest.

Twelve members of the Quinault Nation will paddle the tribe's elder canoe, known as the "Grandfather Canoe," down the Missouri River today with other Northwest tribes in support of the Standing Rock Sioux Nation, which has been protesting the Dakota Access Pipeline for the past few months.

Quinault Nation president Fawn Sharp said such projects raise a flag for native communities across the nation.

"When the United States can take unilateral action directly affecting our ancestral areas - our sacred sites, our environment, our quality of life and our water - with no regard for our position, to even give us a voice on those issues," she said, "it raises concern for all of us."

The Dakota Access Pipeline would transport more than 570,000 barrels of oil per day from North Dakota to Illinois. The Standing Rock Sioux Nation has sued the Army Corps of Engineers, claiming it violated the National Historic Preservation Act by issuing permits for the pipeline. A decision on the case is expected this week.

Sharp said her tribe faces a threat similar to the Dakota pipeline. The Hoquiam City Council in western Washington is deciding whether to grant a permit for an oil terminal at Grays Harbor. Sharp said it's proposed in an area where members exercise their tribal fishing rights and more oil-train traffic would be running through the community if the terminal is built.

"It's also a major center for many of our tribal citizens; schools are there," she said. "Not only our treaty fishery, but the health and safety of the average citizen is at risk."

In this election year, Sharp said, native communities have an opportunity to voice their concerns over projects such as the Dakota Access Pipeline to the presidential candidates.

"We believe the next president of the United States needs to undertake a fundamental change of the relationship between tribal nations and the United States," she said.

Eric Tegethoff, Public News Service - WA