Amid Keystone XL Fight, The Lakota Treaty Of Fort Laramie Turns 150 Native Americans of the Northern Plains are gathering this weekend to commemorate an 1868 agreement with the United States — one often invoked in the debate on pipeline construction.
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Amid Keystone XL Fight, The Lakota Treaty Of Fort Laramie Turns 150

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Amid Keystone XL Fight, The Lakota Treaty Of Fort Laramie Turns 150

Amid Keystone XL Fight, The Lakota Treaty Of Fort Laramie Turns 150

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  • <iframe src="https://www.npr.org/player/embed/606791799/606859327" width="100%" height="290" frameborder="0" scrolling="no" title="NPR embedded audio player">
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LULU GARCIA-NAVARRO, HOST:

Native Americans from across the Northern Plains are gathered in Fort Laramie, Wy., this weekend. They're marking the 150th anniversary of the Lakota Treaty with the United States. Jim Kent reports on a document that some feel has been overlooked.

JIM KENT, BYLINE: Phil Two Eagle is one of those organizing this weekend's treaty gathering. He says treaty violations began before the ink dried, starting with the 1874 discovery of Black Hills gold. Two Eagle believes Washington has ignored its own agreement, but the Lakota haven't.

PHIL TWO EAGLE: This treaty is binding. It's a working document for us.

KENT: A document, Two Eagle says, was ignored with the Keystone XL pipeline.

TWO EAGLE: President Trump signed a permit that will allow Keystone XL to come through. And that Keystone XL is coming right near here, on the Rosebud.

KENT: The Native American Rights Fund is using the treaty to fight the pipeline on the Rosebud reservation. And though President Donald Trump approved the project's permit, no action has been taken due to pipeline issues with the state of Nebraska.

(SOUNDBITE OF CITY TRAFFIC)

KENT: In Rapid City, Carla Rae Marshall hopes the treaty will stop a Canadian mining company's current gold exploration in the Black Hills.

CARLA RAE MARSHALL: Now they are saying that with this gold exploration - they're saying, well, we don't need to consult with tribes on that because it's private lands. Those private lands, they were taken after our treaties.

KENT: Lakota tribal members are suing to stop that gold exploration as they await the U.S. Forest Service decision on a request to drill public or original treaty lands.

(SOUNDBITE OF WIND)

KENT: On the windswept Wyoming plains, Fort Laramie's superintendent prepares for the treaty anniversary. Tom Baker points out that the document signed here in 1868 is still valid.

TOM BAKER: It's equivalent to our Constitution of the United States. That's how important it is. It's international law. It's a treaty.

(SOUNDBITE OF LAKOTA DRUMS)

KENT: As Lakota tribal members gather at Fort Laramie this weekend, they'll have prayers and traditional songs, like this one. And then there will be stories about the past and a renewed effort by the Lakota to ensure that the 1868 Fort Laramie Treaty is upheld. For NPR News, I'm Jim Kent at Fort Laramie, Wy.

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