DES MOINES — The Meskwaki Indian tribe, which has had an Iowa settlement near Tama since 1857, is objecting to a Texas company's plans to construct a 343-mile crude oil pipeline across 18 Iowa counties.
The tribe — officially known as the Sac & Fox Tribe of the Mississippi in Iowa — has expressed its opposition in a letter to the Iowa Utilities Board. The letter, signed by tribal chairwoman Judith Bender, raises concerns that the Bakken oil pipeline would damage the environment and harm Native American graves while crossing through ancestral and ceded treaty lands.
The pipeline has been proposed by Dakota Access LLC, a unit of Dallas-based Energy Transfer Partners. It would transport up to 570,000 barrels of oil daily from North Dakota's Bakken oil fields to a transfer point at Patoka, Ill. The utilities board has not announced when it will make a decision on the project.
The Meskwaki tribe, which has 1,400 members, said the proposed pipeline would cut through lands of religious and cultural significance, and it could destroy wildlife habit and contaminate Iowa's waters. A coalition of 20 other Iowa groups, ranging from the Sierra Club to Iowa Citizens for Community Improvement, has also voiced opposition to the pipeline project.