Lakota Block Tar Sands Shipment in South Dakota

by Levi Rickert

PINE RIDGE INDIAN RESERVATION – Five Lakota were arrested Monday evening in Wanblee, South Dakota when they formed a blockade to halt a convoy of trucks going through the Pine Ridge Indian Reservation.

At issue was there were two trucks that appeared to be hauling pipes through the reservation on their way to Canada. The new trucks that were delivered in Texas from South Korea were carrying pipes used for tar sands pipeline. Totran Transportation Services, Inc., a Canadian company apparently wanted to avoid paying the state of South Dakota $50,000 per truck or $100,000 to use its state highways. Instead Totran Transportation thought they would use the roads on the reservation. Some 75 Lakota thought otherwise.

The two trucks marked “oversize load” on them had in its convoy several pick up vehicles that were first spotted on the reservation in the late afternoon.

Once alerted about the convoy and its whereabouts, Alex and Debra White Plume decided to go and stop it. They were joined by others who formed a human blockade.

The human blockage halted the trucks. The White Plumes were told by the truckers that they had corporate authority to utilize the BIA roads.

“There are actually a number of laws that should protect Indian tribes from those who cite corporate authority,”said Charlotte Black Elk, a well known attorney activist from Manderson, South Dakota.

“I told them nicely we did not want any trouble,”

Alex White Plume told the Native News Network late Monday night.

“But we were determined not to let them use our roads. The chief of police for the tribe told me that he was told that the FBI was prepared to arrest me and pick me up and take me to jail in two white vans.”

White Plume and his wife, Debra and three others were arrested and charged with disorderly conduct and taken to jail in Kyle, South Dakota. The others arrested were: Sam Long Black Cat, Andrew Ironshells and Terrel Ironshells. Several reports on social media reported that Tom Poor Bear, vice president of the Oglala Sioux Tribe was arrested. This proved to be not true.

The five arrested were released on the personal recognizance bond.

“I was the voice for my grandchildren,” said an exhausted Debra White Plume from home after being released from jail. White Plume was arrested last summer in front of the White House while protesting the Keystone XL pipeline.

The Oglala Nation and all American Indian tribes in South Dakota have adamantly opposed the Keystone XL pipeline that was routed through the Pine Ridge and Rosebud Indian Reservations that would cross the Oglala Sioux Rural Water Supply System in two places.

Late Monday, it was reported the Eagle Butte Indian tribal council met to decide to form a human blockade on their reservations if the Trotran convoy attempts to come through their reservation which is north of the Pine Ridge Indian Reservation.

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