A Dakota Access spokeswoman said Thursday that audio released by the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe of a September 2014 meeting shows the pipeline company wanted to work with the tribe.
“I think the recording demonstrates our willingness to work with them,” said Vicki Anderson Granado, spokeswoman for Dakota Access parent company Energy Transfer Partners, said in a statement. “Our doors were open and it is unfortunate that they did not choose to work with us. We hope that changes as we continue to move forward with this project.”
The tribe recently released the recording of a Standing Rock Tribal Council meeting that seems to contradict recent statements made by Energy Transfer Partners CEO Kelcy Warren.
“I really wish for the Standing Rock Sioux that they had engaged in discussions way before they did. I don’t think we would have been having this discussion if they did,” Warren said in a Wall Street Journal interview published Nov. 16. “We could have changed the route. It could have been done, but it’s too late.”
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However, during the 2014 meeting, tribal members expressed strong objections to the project, citing concerns about sacred sites and the potential threat to the tribe’s water supply, the same points the tribe raised in a federal lawsuit nearly two years later.
“I will never submit to any pipeline to go through my homeland,” former council member Phyllis Young told the company.
Chairman Dave Archambault II said in a statement the tribe’s concerns were clearly articulated during that meeting.
“When the Dakota Access Pipeline chose this route, they did not consider our strong opposition,” he said.
Granado said Thursday that Warren did not say the company has never talked to the tribe, but he wished the tribe had engaged in discussions earlier when invited to do so. She pointed to a ruling by U.S. District Judge James Boasberg that said the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers documented dozens of attempts it made to consult with the tribe. In addition, the tribe did not participate in North Dakota Public Service Commission hearings, she added.
“As we have said before, we value and respect culture of all Native Americans and the significant role their culture plays in our nation’s history and its future,” Granado said. “We wish they had elected to participate in the many discussions that took place during the last several years on this project as there may have been a different outcome than we have today.”