South Dakota Native Americans Blockade Tar Sands Shipment Through Their Lands, Five Arrested

On Monday, dozens of Native Americans in South Dakota set up a roadblock to prevent trucks from shipping massive tar-sands equipment to Canada until tribal police intervened, arresting five. The Black Hills Sioux Nation Treaty Council and Oglala Sioux Tribe are adamantly opposed to the construction of the Keystone XL pipeline because it crosses through two reservations and their rural water supply system.

The trucks were transporting “treater vessels” across the Pine Ridge Reservation’s Treaty territory, a route that was purportedly worked out in an agreement between the state of South Dakota and Totran Transportation Services, Inc. without the consent of the Oglala Lakota Nation. The truck drivers entrusted with hauling the equipment were instructed to cut through Oglala lands in an attempt to avoid paying South Dakota $50,000 per truck — or $100,000 — in fees to use its state highways.

The Texas semi-trucks, transporting 1.25Million-dollar “Treater Vessels” used in oil, gas and element separation, were stopped in their tracks as they approached the human roadblock…

…The drivers were questioned by those forming the blockade as to why they were crossing Oglala lands. One of the drivers responded that they did not know they were crossing Indian land, only that they were following company directives regarding their assigned routes and that their Canadian Corporation had received this particular route information as a result of a partnership with the State of South Dakota, whose elected officials have always supported the Keystone XL pipeline.

Oglala Tribal police arrived on the scene immediately, and after asking the crowd of around 75 people to disperse, handcuffed five demonstrators and charged each with disorderly conduct. The policemen then escorted the semi-trucks and their payloads back onto the main highway.


Because the Keystone XL pipeline is routed through the Pine Ridge and Rosebud Indian Reservations, it crosses the Oglala Sioux Rural Water Supply System in two places, potentially endangering anyone who might rely on that particular water supply to perform typical daily functions.

-Fatima Najiy