Navajo Nation President Russell Begaye traveled to Standing Rock Sioux territory in support of the water protectors trying to stop the Dakota Access oil pipeline from running under the Missouri River a half-mile from the tribe’s reservation.
Arriving on Monday August 30, Begaye along with Vice President Jonathan Nez met with Standing Rock Sioux Chairman David Archambault II and presented the Navajo Nation flag to the Lakota Nation.
“We stand in solidarity with our brothers and sisters of the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe as they defend the encroachment of potential environmental disasters along their traditional border,” Begaye said in a statement. “In defending their traditional homeland against development that could potentially harm their lands and the purity of their natural resources, the Navajo Nation stands in support of the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe.”
The Navajo Nation knows firsthand what this is like, as Vice President Jonathan Nez noted.
“Time and again, Native American tribes have faced encroaching development upon tribal lands from industry and the federal government. Industrial interests have damaged Indian lands and left tribes with the legacy of cleaning up,” said Nez said. “From uranium mining to the recent Gold King Mine spill and Dakota Access Pipeline, these issues continue.”
The $3.8 billion Dakota Access pipeline would carry up to half a billion barrels of crude daily from the Bakken oil fields, pipe it 1,172 miles through four states, and in doing so cross more than 200 waterways. The project is being contested heavily in Iowa as well.
In their letter of support for the Standing Rock Sioux, the two Navajo officials highlighted the similarities between issues facing both tribes.
“The protection of our sacred sites and water is of the utmost importance to all tribes, as it is to the Navajo Nation, their letter said. “This is a fight that all tribes have faced and the Navajo Nation has faced and faces even today without our own lands. I am proud to see so many other tribes come to support your efforts because it is time tribes finally stand against these threats to our lands. We will be heard because we are one, not one as a tribal nation but one as Native people.”