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Connecticut Tribes Support Pipeline Fight of Standing Rock Sioux

Chion Wolf
Melissa Tantiquidgeon Zobel, at left, and Dominique Beltran.

Members of Connecticut’s two federally recognized Indian tribes said they’ll continue to support the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe in their fight against the Dakota Access Pipeline project. Tribal members have traveled to the site of the protest. 

For months now, the Standing Rock Sioux have been attempting to block the construction of an oil pipeline that comes within a half mile of their reservation in North Dakota.

The tribe said the path of the pipeline threatens both ancient sacred burial sites and their water resources. It’s now become a cause for tribal peoples across the nation.

"I was reading about it a lot. And every night I would read about it, my heart would hurt," said Dominique Beltran of the Mashantucket Pequot Tribe. She told WNPR’s Where We Live that she made the 30-hour drive to the encampment with other members of the tribe in mid-September. "I just decided I have to get out there, I have to do something. I just was drawn there."

Though the protest is a cause celebre on social media, it’s only been in the headlines recently as federal authorities have mounted a more militarized response to the protest.

Beltran said everything she witnessed at the encampment was peaceful. "I can't find the perfect sum of words to describe how overwhelmingly beautiful it was," she said.

Medicine woman of the Mohegan Tribe, Melissa Tantiquidgeon Zobel, has also visited the Dakota encampment. She said the protest of Standing Rock Sioux has become an important symbol for the struggles of native peoples all over the country.

"This is a battle that at its root has to deal with a history of treatment that is very, very wrong," she said. "The 1851 Treaty rights of the Standing Rock are at stake here, their federal trust management responsibilities are at stake here, their sacred sites and burials, and environmental protection. But these laws simply aren't carried through."

The Mashantucket Pequot Tribe this weekend collected donations of food, blankets, clothing, and supplies which they will send out to the Standing Rock Sioux.

Harriet Jones is Managing Editor for Connecticut Public Radio, overseeing the coverage of daily stories from our busy newsroom.
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