In the company of a Sisseton-Wahpeton Oyate tribal elder, Bluestem traveled today to a rural area just southeast of Amherst, South Dakota, site of the most recent oil spill on the Keystone opipeline owned by TransCanada.
We couldn't get too close to the site, as roads going close to it are blocked for two miles around by local and state law enforcement. However, we had brought binoculars and could see equipment gathered at the site, as well as a nearby work base.
Fortunately, Mike (he doesn't wish to have his last name published) had brought his tribal plat book, which includes a map of Marshall County, including its surface waters. We were able to discern that the drainage ditch that runs past the spill is part of the Crow Creek drainage system, which flows toward the James River, a tributary of the Missouri.
Drainage ditch northeast of Keystone Pipeline oil spill. pic.twitter.com/Ve2cBXEtYC— Sally Jo Sorensen (@sallyjos) November 19, 2017
This creek/ditch moves away from the reservation--though Mike stressed that wouldn't be seen as positive by tribal members, who value clean water and soil for all their neighbors.
Here's an aerial view which shows how close the spill is to the ditch:
Indeed, after we returned to Summit, Dakotas for America published an instagram of the statement by Chairman David Flute of the Sisseton Wahpeton Lake Traverse Reservation, a Dakota Nation:
Flute is spot on with his observation about the interconnected nature of surface and ground water in the area, on and off the reservation. Dakota people traditionally value interconnectedness. Research about water resources bear this out: the area's bedrock aquifer is the Dakota aquifer, while the region is laced with other, glacial and outwash aquifers.
Here's Ryan Thompson's study of the Lake Traverse Indian Reservation Water Resources:
Here's the South Dakota Geological Survey Program study for all of Marshall County:
Geology and Water Resources of Marshall County, South Dakota posted by Sally Jo Sorensen on Scribd
Earlier on Greenpeace's site, Sarah Sunshine Manning, an independent journalist and citizen of the Shoshone-Paiute Tribes of the Duck Valley Indian Reservation in Idaho and Nevada, and a descendent of the Chippewa-Cree, and Hopi tribes who lives on the Lake Traverse Reservation, reported in Sisseton Wahpeton Tribal Members Respond to the Keystone Oil Spill:
When the recent Keystone 1 pipeline oil spill of 210,000 gallons happened near the Lake Traverse Indian Reservation in northeast South Dakota, home of the Sisseton Wahpeton Oyate, tribal members were immediately alarmed. Many were outraged.
After hearing of the news of the spill, a group of tribal members drove directly to the location searching for answers. The tribal radio station, KXSW, reported from on the ground in a Facebook live stream while hundreds of tribal members watched nervously. “I feel sick,” one tribal member wrote in the comments of the video livestream. . . .
Mike Peters, a Sisseton Wahpeton Tribal Member, lives in the Enemy Swim district near the western border of the reservation, approximately 20 miles from the site of the oil spill. Like many tribal members, Peters was incensed to hear of an oil spill so near his home.
“My greatest concern is the safety of my family, my kids, and grandkids, and really all the people in this area no matter what race or color, because we all need clean water to live,” Peters said. “The water and the land is important to us because everything has a spirit, and when anyone’s spirit is covered in oil it saddens all of us.
In 2008, the Sisseton Wahpeton Oyate were plaintiffs in a lawsuit against Trans Canada, along with the Rosebud Sioux Tribe, the Santee Sioux Tribe of Nebraska, and the Yankton Sioux Tribe. Their goal: to protect their homelands and their communities from the devastation of oil spills like the one that just happened. In 2009, the lawsuit was dismissed for “lack of jurisdiction.”. . .
Read all of Manning's excellent article at Greenpeace.
Hat-tip to SWO member Allison Renville for coverage and links on Facebook.
Photos: Top two by author; aerial view via internet; Flute statement via Dakotas for America.
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