Today the AFS Executive Board sent a statement of support for the Indigenous nations opposing the Dakota Access Pipeline to the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe, the US Department of the Interior, the US Army Corps of Engineers, and the Intangible Cultural Heritage Section of UNESCO.
The statement reads:
“The American Folklore Society stands in solidarity with the Oceti Sakowin Oyate (the Great Sioux Nation), the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe, and the many Indigenous nations in strong opposition to the construction of the Dakota Access Pipeline.
“The proposed Dakota Access Pipeline crosses land protected by international treaties with sovereign Indigenous nations, land that contains recognized cultural resources, sacred sites, and places of immense value for these sovereign nations, including the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe. Dakota Access Pipeline crews have already purposefully and unlawfully removed topsoil over an area 150 feet wide and two miles long near the confluence of the Cannonball and Missouri Rivers, an act that destroyed prayer rings, cairns, and burial grounds. The United States government and the State of North Dakota have failed to respect the civil rights of protestors and water protectors, allowing privately contracted security forces to use attack dogs, mace, and tear gas to assault Indigenous persons and deny them their rights to peacefully assemble and engage in religious ceremony on sacred sites.
“These actions, undertaken without meaningful Tribal consultation and review, undermine the legal rights of Indigenous people to self-determination, and violate the National Historic Preservation Act and the United Nations’ commitment to safeguarding tangible and intangible cultural heritage.
“The American Folklore Society’s Executive Board unequivocally believes in, and affirms the legitimacy of, the rights of Indigenous peoples to maintain cultural and political sovereignty. The American Folklore Society recognizes our collective responsibility to respect and protect the cultural practices associated with these ancestral lands as a valued asset of our shared human heritage. As a professional society of folklorists, we understand it to be our ethical and professional responsibility to challenge ill-conceived proposals and activities that threaten the integrity of human communities, particularly when they are in violation of federal law and international treaties. We call on our sister professional societies to draft similar principled statements in solidarity with the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe.”