(Sputnik) — Native American tribes are determined to continue their efforts against the construction of the Keystone XL pipeline, Rosebud Sioux tribe leader William Bear Shield told Sputnik.
“The Keystone XL pipeline is within 15 miles of where I live. It’s an issue for us… an ongoing issue,” Bear Shield said. “The tribes are going to fight to stop it just like they did with Dakota Access pipeline.”
The 1,179-mile Keystone XL project, which was blocked by former President Barack Obama and then approved by current President Donald Trump, is the last section of the entire Keystone system.
Bear Shield noted that affected Native American tribes will “by no means” stop their fight against the pipeline.
“We haven’t [stopped]. Even with the Dakota Access, we are still continuing to fight that,” he stated.
Two other tribes, the Standing Rock Sioux and Cheyenne River Sioux, are in a legal battle against the Dakota Access pipeline, objecting to its construction on the basis that it affects burial lands and vital water resources in contravention to treaties the United States has signed with Native Americans.
Bear Shield, who is also tribal health administrator, said that in addition to addressing the pipelines issue, healthcare one of the main priorities for the Rosebud Sioux tribe.
The Rosebud Sioux leader explained the tribe has had issues with hospitals as it has been unsafe to take individuals to emergency rooms, adding that efforts are being made to improve healthcare services.
Bear Shield also expressed concerns over possible impacts of the US Administration plans to repeal the Affordable Care Act.
“We are hopeful that the Indian Healthcare Improvement Act, which has been around for many years since 1970s stays intact,” he said.
Cheyenne River Sioux Tribe Chairman Harold Frazier also has concerns about US government. He claims that the voices of Native American tribes on important issues facing them are not heard by the US federal government.
“There are so many issues facing us, but one of the most important is that our voice matter,” Frazier said. “We are never heard and we need to be. We were here first, this is our land.”
“Right now you look at all the nationalities and racism, and it’s just not working with us,” he said. “It seems like we don’t matter which is not right because this is our country, this is our land… Mainstream America, they don’t face the truth. This land was stolen, our people were murdered.”