PIERRE | The Standing Rock Sioux Tribe didn’t work with Dakota Access when the company conducted a cultural resources survey along the route proposed for its oil pipeline, the tribe’s historic preservation officer testified Wednesday.
The officer said the tribe expected to go through the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, but that didn’t occur.
A company lawyer’s cross-examination of the officer showed the company’s consultant had made attempts to reach the tribe by letter and email.
The officer, Waste’ Win Young, told the South Dakota Public Utilities Commission that the tribal government considers the process incomplete.
Young said the corps would send employees to meet with tribal officials on Oct. 28 about the matter.
Her comments came on the sixth day of testimony in the commission’s hearing on whether to grant the company a permit to build and operate the pipeline through South Dakota.
The tribe’s intention has been to participate in the survey of cultural resources but do it through the corps, according to Young.
“We were just never afforded the opportunity,” she said.
Consequently the results of the company’s survey haven’t been reviewed because the tribe considers the survey incomplete, she said.
The results of the company’s cultural survey were provided to the commission Friday, the fourth day of the permit hearing. They are confidential.
A lawyer for the company argued through her questions Wednesday that the National Historic Preservation Act would apply only if the proposed route crossed tribal lands.
Young said her opinion is the act applies along the entire route.
The lawyer, Kara Semmler, of Pierre, asked whether Young was aware a letter was sent to the tribal chairman on Sept. 7.
The letter hasn’t been introduced as evidence. When lawyers for opponents objected, Semmler said she was “moving on.”
Semmler, a former PUC lawyer, turned Young’s attention to a Nov. 13, 2014, email to Young from one of the consultants who conducted the survey for the company.
The email asked whether Young would provide information on cultural sites.
Young said the email indicated the consultant would get back to Young with a schedule for sampling activities. That didn’t happen, Young said.
Semmler asked Young whether she was aware of the efforts made by the company to avoid stone circles and other sites.
“No, I’m not,” Young said.
In answer to another question, Young said she hadn’t read the company’s survey reports.
Commission Chairman Chris Nelson asked Young whether she had ever communicated to the company’s consultant how the company could identify sensitive sites.
Young said no. Young said she had been waiting for the corps. She said that is the standard process involving tribes on cultural surveys.
Young said the company came to the tribe because the corps hadn’t responded to the company.
She said the pipeline wouldn’t cross tribal land but would cross aboriginal land.
Semmler later asked why Young didn’t respond to the company’s consultant.
“I think that’s a question for the Army corps,” Young said.
Young said the tribe keeps information on cultural sites "under lock and key."
Dakota Access, based in Houston, Texas, wants to transport oil from the Bakken and Three Forks formations of North Dakota, through South Dakota and Iowa, into southern Illinois.
The proposed route would enter South Dakota through Campbell County and continue at a 45-degree angle southeasterly through McPherson, Edmunds, Faulk, Spink, Beadle, Kingsbury, Miner, Lake, McCook, Minnehaha, Turner and Lincoln counties on its way to Iowa.