A semi-truck was escorted Monday off the Cheyenne River Sioux Tribe Reservation, but the tribe and a pipeline company disagree on who the driver was working for.
The truck was working for a contractor with TC Energy — the company that's planning on building the Keystone XL pipeline — and illegally entered the reservation, according to a tribal member and a news release from the tribal chairman.
But Sara Rabern, a spokeswoman with TC Canada, said the truck has no relation to the company or pipeline.
Joye Braun, a grassroots organizer with the Indigenous Environmental Network, told the Journal she went to see the truck at a convenience store in Eagle Butte after a friend called her around 5:30 p.m. Monday. She said people noticed the truck because it was hauling an oversize load but wasn't with a pilot car.
Braun said she heard the driver say he was heading to the Bakken oil fields in North Dakota, and that someone else told her the driver said he was working for a contractor with TC Energy. She said police officers arrived and found that the driver's manifest mentioned TC Energy. Braun herself did not see the manifesto.
The officers called Chairman Harold Frazier who directed them to escort the truck off the reservation, Braun said.
Photos posted by Braun on Twitter show people and officers standing in front of a truck with a sign that says "oversize load." Another photo shows the truck carrying a large barrel-shaped load and followed by a police car.
Frazier's news release had a similar narrative to Braun's and said the truck broke a tribal resolution that bans all Keystone XL trucks and escort vehicles from the reservation.
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"This is Sioux Territory. We will not stand for more encroachments and defilement of our land," he said in the release. "Any vehicles or personnel working on the Keystone XL pipeline are not welcome on the reservation. I would like to thank the tribal members who brought this to our attention and stand with them in our opposition to the KXL pipeline."
Charles LeCompte, police chief for the Cheyenne River Sioux Tribe, said all media questions should be referred to Frazier when asked how officers learned of the truck. The Journal left several messages with Frazier's office but did not hear back from him.
TC Energy denied the truck was hauling a load for the company.
"We work closely with our crews and contractors on their schedules to ensure their safety and ensuring the safe delivery of our materials," Rabern said. "In addition, we currently do not have any activity in the region. We build pipe and are not an oil or gas producer that would move its products by truck."
Tony Mangan, spokesman for the state Department of Public Safety, said he wasn’t certain what the truck was hauling or for whom.
"I cannot confirm to you that it was a pipeline truck. We don't know that," he said Thursday.
Mangan said state troopers weren't at the scene but learned of the incident after tribal police called a sheriff's office who called the Department of Public Safety.