Letter to the editor: Still standing


On Friday, March 10, at 4:30 p.m., supporters of Steamboat Stands with Standing Rock will hold a demonstration outside the Steamboat Springs Post Office. On March 28 at 6 p.m., we will show two documentary films and hold a silent auction at the Chief Theater to raise money for the Standing Rock Legal Defense Fund.

You may wonder why we are demonstrating in support of Standing Rock when the main camp has been cleared and the pipeline is all but complete. The answer is that numerous lawsuits against the pipeline company are still in play and continue to block the transfer of oil.

More importantly, the powerful message of the camps at Standing Rock has helped to ignite a larger and growing movement that seeks to defend the rights of all indigenous nations to have a final say over projects that directly affect their lands.

Our local efforts will be held in conjunction with a larger action in Washington, D.C., where leaders, members and supporters of Tribal Nations from across the country will meet with congressional representatives and then hold a march and demonstration. The D.C. march and all of its “sister” actions hope to convince President Trump to meet with tribal leaders to discuss and affirm respect for tribal rights.

If you think this is not your fight, please think again. At its core, the struggle at Standing Rock is the most fundamental, and indeed the oldest, fight for property rights.

Across the United States, property rights of landowners, farmers and ranchers are increasingly threatened by energy development. Energy companies use — and abuse — mineral rights, subsurface leases and principles of “eminent domain” to proceed with mining, drilling and pipeline construction on private property, often without the land owner’s consent.

There are an increasing number of lawsuits pitting private citizens against giant oil and pipeline companies, all in an effort to protect property values, the integrity of water and soil and the viability of farmlands.

Similarly and even closer to home, the Bureau of Land Management is finalizing plans to sell the mineral leases of 15,000 acres of private land — small acreages and ranches — in Routt County. Once those leases are sold, exploration and drilling can proceed without the consent of private land owners.

We stand with Standing Rock to push back against the energy industry’s abuse of eminent domain and the subsequent erosion of private property rights. We stand with farmers and ranchers who seek to protect their lands and livelihood from the threats of drilling and pipeline spills.

And, most importantly, we stand in solidarity with the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe and all indigenous peoples as they fight for the right to maintain control over their lands and to preserve water and the earth for future generations.

Please join us in supporting Standing Rock. Mni wiconi — Water is life.

Kristy Anderson, Kate Bauer, Lauren Berrien, Begee Biggs, Erin Biggs, Nancy Brood, Nancy Ciran, Margo Fragola, Maria Goines, Hummer Marchand, Valerie McLarrin-Clark, Diane R Miller, Nina Rogers, Trizanne Rowley, Joshua Smith, Betty Truelove, Liz Wahl, Nancy Working and Genevieve Yazzie

Steamboat Springs


Neil O'Keeffe 1 month, 3 weeks ago

Well stated and thanks for your efforts. This is in fact an issue that impacts all citizens regardless of race, color, creed or political persuasion. Big Energy does not care about private property rights, the environment or anything other than their need for unbridled expansion and profit. If we as a nation/community of people not corporations can't come together on such an impactful issue then we have lost all hope of preserving anything of value. United we stand and divided we fall, the outcome of our efforts is at our fingertips.
Eternal vigilance is the price of our liberty. Let's get busy people!


Carl Steidtmann 1 month, 3 weeks ago

This is nothing more than a shake down. As of the end of January, more than $8 million has been raised for these protests and lawsuits. There is currently only one law suit in process, a second lawsuit having been thrown out of court today.

Big energy cares a lot more about property rights than do the DAPL protesters. You can read an assessment of the direct cost to the ranchers in the vicinity of the protests put together by the North Dakota Department of Agriculture:


The footnote to this report includes the following:

Families reported fear of leaving their homes and farmsteads; strangers taking photos or videotaping rural residents;vehicles and masked protesters playing chicken with local residents on county roads or shaking fists at them as they drive by; farmers and ranchers feeling they are in harm’s way and arming themselves; extra expenses incurred for security systems, gas money to go around roadblocks, families staying in Bismarck-Mandan hotels out of fear for their own personal safety; rural route buses escorted to schools by law enforcement.

Then there is the environmental destruction wrought by the protesters. Over 1000 tons of garbage and human waste was left behind. The clean up alone is expected to cost taxpayers $1.2 million. The protesters failure to clean up after themselves put the very water that they were supposedly protecting from Big Energy at risk of contamination.

Then there is the economic damage. The local Native American owned casinos have seen a reduction of up to 50% of their business due to the protests. The state of North Dakota expects to reap $100 million a year in added revenue to the pipeline, money that the protesters have kept from flowing into state coffers. Behind that state revenue gain stands millions more in wages to workers and royalty payments to landowners.

And finally, there is the criminal activity. North Dakota spent $33 million on law enforcement efforts in responding to protester violence. Over 600 protesters were arrested at the protest site, police were fired upon, millions of dollars in construction equipment was destroyed and a bridge over a state highway was partially destroyed, forcing its temporary closure.

This is the record of the DAPL protesters. It is one of economic and environmental destruction coupled with criminal activity. When you give your money to these people, this is what you are actually supporting.


Dan Kuechenmeister 1 month, 3 weeks ago

Right, let's ship oil by rail or truck, nothing bad ever happens


Fred Duckels 1 month, 3 weeks ago

Moral outrage at it's finest. If we are serious about helping others let's look out our door. This is the Ute's tribal land. We vigorously defend it as our own but we are but mere squatters. I think that charity begins at home, maybe the authors of this article could come up with a meaningful solution to start making amends and put some skin in the game right here where it counts. This is an opportunity to throw politics aside and belly up to the bar.


rhys jones 1 month, 3 weeks ago

Fred -- If we stood by all our treaties, Mexico would be a lot closer.


Matthew Kuckkahn 1 month, 2 weeks ago

Treaty trumps all national and international law. If you break it, it is done so illegally because one nation has the bigger military than the other. That simple.


Nancy Spillane 1 month, 3 weeks ago

Ladies: Thank you for your insightful letter and for standing for the rights of all indigenous nations. I stand with you.


Matthew Kuckkahn 1 month, 2 weeks ago

Their senior water rights are the most senior water rights in all of the united states because they go back to when the land was originally given by treaty to the native Americans. Treaty trumps all national and international law, it is the most stringent legal protection, and they are a sovereign nation (with no military or this wouldn't be happening). Their rights in regards to protection of their very valuable senior water right is being trampled on simply because they have no money, because, all of their other treaties have also been illegally violated with zero repercussion, again because they have no money.

Imperialists do what imperialists do, but native Americans lived in harmony with the land for thousands of years. Our society has made it a few hundred. We will see which model of living proves to be the most resilient. Unfortunately again the poor will feel the repercussions first, as 100% of pipelines leak, just hopefully not catastrophically.

My last point, eminent domain was never intended to be used by a private for profit international corporation. It was intended to be a police power used only by a publicly accountable non-profit government.

Laws should be followed by everybody, not just the poor nations.


Scott Wedel 1 month, 2 weeks ago

There is no rational basis for saying this pipeline will threaten their water supplies. Double walled pipe buried under the water (via horizontal drilling) at a river crossing with existing pipelines. Double wall pipes means their is separation between the oil and the outer wall so any leak from one wall is immediately detected and pipeline shutdown while the other wall still remains intact. This river crossing is designed to have valves on either side so the amount of potential leakage is limited to what is in that limited pipe section.

Those that complain about this pipeline contaminating water have to ignore science and physics the same way that those deny human activity is a significant contributor to global climate change.


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