The Student News Site of Tarrant County College

The Collegian

The Student News Site of Tarrant County College

The Collegian

The Student News Site of Tarrant County College

The Collegian

UTA professor talks about Dakota pipeline

By Sheri-Lee Norris

The Dakota Access Pipeline reopened old issues of sovereignty and galvanized Native Americans from around both the U.S. and Canada, UTA professor Kenneth Roemer told TR students Nov. 17. 

Thousands of protesters have joined the Standing Rock Sioux Nation to protest the pipeline, expressing both environmental and sovereignty concerns.

The Department of Interior has responsibility for tribal issues in the U.S., much to the consternation of the people themselves, Roemer said.

Native Americans half-heartedly joke “Interior has animals, trees and Indians,” he said.

Two hundred years of patchwork federal law have now combined with state and tribal law to make legal issues “a nightmare,” he said. For example, crimes committed by or against Native Americans face hurdles of who has legal standing to pursue a case. While native people believe it should be their right to prosecute crimes committed on their land, more often than not a federal or state law makes a determination, Roemer said.

Pipeline construction was recently halted in North Dakota by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, citing the need to consult with the Standing Rock tribe.

“I expect it’s going to take a very long time to resolve,” he said. “Not only does this land issue open up claims of this tribe [dating back to 1851] but has the possibility of opening up treaties of tribes all over North America. Settling the North Dakota pipeline issue could be a long, protracted and very messy process.”

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