WINDOW ROCK, Ariz. — On Jan. 24, President Donald J. Trump signed memorandums to advance approval of both the Keystone XL and Dakota Access oil pipelines. The construction of both pipelines have been heavily disputed by Native American tribes.
Navajo Nation President Russell Begaye and Vice President Jonathan Nez released a press release strongly opposing Trump’s approval of the Keystone and the Dakota Access Pipelines.
Both Begaye and Nez traveled to Cannonball, North Dakota last year to speak with Standing Rock Sioux Chairman Dave Archambault II and to show their support for the tribe’s opposition to the construction of the Dakota Access Pipeline.
The construction of the Dakota Access Pipeline threatens to contaminate a major source of water for the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe and surrounding communities and destroy sacred, tribal lands.
The Standing Rock Sioux have said that construction of the pipeline threatens to contaminate a major source of water for the tribe and surrounding communities and that it will destroy sacred, tribal lands.
“If an oil spill happens, it will not only impact Indian country but it will impact millions of people who utilize the water for livestock, farming, and recreation,” Begaye said. “We hope President Trump understands that Native Americans will always stand to protect our land, water, air and resources given to us by our Creator.”
Begaye called upon all Native Americans to be diligent in standing together, as tribal nations will encounter more of these actions in the next four years.
“We encourage our people to refrain from violence as the construction moves forward,” he said. “Let’s unite in prayer and hope that the industry itself will seek alternate solutions. The Trump administration needs to recognize how valuable all natural resources are, especially water. Water gives us life and sustenance. We cannot live without water.”
Nez said the decision by Trump to sign memorandums advancing construction of the pipelines only five days into the new administration should concern all Native American tribes, states and communities along the pipelines’ trajectory.
“In essence, President Trump is setting the tone for his administration,” Nez said. “If this is what we as Native Nations have to look forward to, then we need to stand together in protecting our lands and natural sources from any further mismanagement or environmental disasters.”
Trump said that construction of the Keystone Pipeline is something that has been in dispute and is subject to a renegotiation of terms by the administration.
“We are going to renegotiate some of the terms and we’ll see if we can get that pipeline built,” Trump said during the signing.
Trump said that the Dakota Access Pipeline’s terms and conditions will be negotiated by his administration.
Begaye and Nez said there are other ways to create jobs and increase economic growth for the United States, like the utilization of alternative sources of energy.
“These pipelines will create temporary construction jobs but only a fraction will amount to permanent jobs in the future,” Begaye said. “The Office of the President and Vice President express our appreciation to all Native American leaders across the United States and abroad and the Dakota Sioux Nation for standing up to protect our most precious resource, which is our water.”