Two timber companies are accusing Dakota Access Pipeline opponents of “sabotage” and trying to “take advantage” of the public by claiming they own the right to log the tribe’s sacred timber lands.
The two companies, North Dakota Timber and the North Dakota Forestry Company, filed a lawsuit Friday in the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Texas against Dakota Access and the Bureau of Land Management (BLM).
The complaint accuses the three companies of attempting to use “a scheme and deceptive acts” to “gain access to tribal lands, water and natural resources.”
The lawsuit alleges that the Dakota access pipeline “would be the largest and most complex energy infrastructure project in American history.”
The complaint claims the two companies’ companies are the “original owners of tribal lands,” the “real owners” of timber lands on the Standing Rock Sioux Reservation and the “sole beneficiaries” of a $3.8 billion, 60-year-old energy pipeline that was built to transport crude oil and other products from North Dakota to Illinois.
The lawsuit claims the three timber companies have “a fiduciary duty” to ensure that the water and timber lands they control are properly used for “the benefit of the people of Standing Rock.”
The defendants’ lawsuit alleges the companies’ use of the pipeline “threatens the environment, public health, and property rights of the Standing Creek Tribe, its members, the surrounding communities and adjacent tribes, and its property owners.”
The tribes lawsuit is seeking an injunction to block the pipeline’s construction, as well as damages, injunctions and injunctive relief.
The Dakota Access project has been stalled in court since April, when a federal judge in Washington State blocked the construction of the project, which is designed to carry oil and gas through a vast stretch of the Missouri River to refineries on the Gulf Coast.
The project is also in the midst of final approval from a U.N. panel that has not yet decided whether the pipeline will be allowed to cross tribal land.
The three timber and pipeline companies say the tribes are using a “fraudulent and deceptive” campaign to portray the Dakota pipeline as a natural resource.
The companies allege in the lawsuit that “some members of the Dakota community, who have traditionally been associated with traditional land management and preservation activities, have been led to believe that the Plaintiffs own the rights to the lands they possess and control.
Plaintiffs have been misled into believing that they have the right and the obligation to manage and preserve the lands and water resources that lie within their respective reservation lands and waters.”
The timber and pipelines companies also claim in the complaint that “other tribal entities have engaged in similar activities” to create “false or misleading public representations that have harmed the Tribe’s economic and social development, and are undermining the Tribe and its future economic prospects.”
In its lawsuit, the Dakota companies also accuse the Dakota National Guard of using “unnecessary force” to force protesters from a “secure camp” on the North Platte River to a temporary camp near the pipeline site.
The protesters have been on the ground for days.
It has been a violent, disruptive, and difficult week for the Standing Sioux Tribe and the rest of the communities of North Dakota and South Dakota who are also on the frontline of the fight against the Dakota Pipeline.
On Friday, the Standing Committee for Environmental Justice and Justice for Our Defenders, which includes a broad coalition of Native American and environmental organizations, sent a letter to the Army Corps of Engineers demanding that the pipeline be halted.
The letter said the encampment “has been the target of law enforcement and law enforcement agencies who have responded to the encampments with force and aggression.”
The letter noted that a number of law-enforcement agencies have deployed force against the Standing people during the week of protests and urged the Army to halt its use of force and other violence against Native Americans.
The tribes’ lawsuit says the campsite was “a site of sacred and ancient knowledge and is sacred to the Standing Clan and other sacred places.”
It says the Standing clans “are not the aggressors and the law enforcement that have violently responded to and attacked the camp and people are not the ones who are using force against them.”
The tribe has also accused the Standing Council of using military force and using “disrespectful language” against the protesters.
The Standing Council, which represents some of the largest Native American tribes in the country, has accused the protesters of being “anti-native” and “anti Native Americans.”
“The Standing Sioux Tribal Council has repeatedly called on the federal government to halt the construction and use of military force against Native American demonstrators who were peaceful protesters who were unarmed and peacefully demonstrating on behalf of the tribe,” the letter said.
The Standing Council’s statement also said the group “has repeatedly urged the federal and state governments to halt and stop the construction, and the continued use of, military force by the federal, state