The Standing Rock Sioux Tribe got support from oil-rich Fort Berthold Indian Reservation Monday as it awaits a potential bench ruling on an injunction stopping Dakota Access Pipeline construction near the reservation.

Three Affiliated Tribes’ chairman Mark Fox issued a formal letter of support for Standing Rock’s opposition.

“We…share the firm belief that Dakota Access should find an alternative means and method of transporting oil to market that has less potential for negative impact to Standing Rock and the lands we have historically shared with a fellow nation, friends and relatives,” Fox said.

Fox was not available for questions after issuing the letter on behalf of himself and the tribal council. He said Three Affiliated will continue to provide logistical support and supplies to the protest effort.

Meanwhile, Jan Hasselman, an attorney with EarthJustice who filed the suit on behalf of the tribe, said the federal judge hearing arguments Wednesday for the possible injunction told parties during a status conference that he will try to rule immediately after the hearing, settling in the near term whether pipeline construction will continue at a location just north of the tribe’s reservation boundary.

The location, where the 500,000-barrel Bakken crude line will be drilled under the Missouri River-Lake Oahe near the tribe’s water intake, is under protest by Standing Rock Sioux tribal members and other tribes. After 28 arrests and daily police and protest encounters, the company stopped work there last week pending the hearing.

The tribe wants the court to stop pipeline construction while it determines whether the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers violated the National Historic Preservation Act and other federal laws when it issued water-crossing easements for the pipeline in late July.

It’s estimated some 60 tribes are represented at the protest and tribal leaders say it’s the largest gathering of Native Americans in modern times.

(Reach Lauren Donovan at 701-220-5511 or lauren@westriv.com.)

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