On Thanksgiving, U.S. Sen. Martin Heinrich called on President Barack Obama to reroute the controversial Dakota Access Pipeline and condemned the response by police to protests.
Native Americans and others have protested pipeline over recent weeks over a fear that it would imperil the Standing Rock Sioux Nation’s only water source. The pipeline’s path was already moved once, from near Bismarck. Part of the reason was the risk to the city’s water supply.
Update: Heinrich concerned over violence against Standing Rock protesters
“Today is Thanksgiving and I cannot help but reflect on our history in these United States and how often it has not lived up to the rosy picture of Pilgrims and Indians sharing a meal in friendly company that I saw in textbooks as a child,” Heinrich said in a statement. “The issues facing Indian Country are many and they are complex, but that should not stop those of us in positions of elected leadership from seeking to make a difference wherever and whenever we can.”
Heinrich called on President Obama and the Army Corps of Engineers to reroute the pipeline.
“No pipeline is worth more than the respect we hold for our Native American neighbors,” Heinrich said. “No pipeline is worth more than the clean water that we all depend on. This pipeline is not worth the life of a single protester.”
Related: A UNM professor writes about standing in solidarity with Standing Rock
Earlier this week, the Democratic Party of New Mexico announced that it sent a letter of commitment to Standing Rock Sioux Tribe Chairman Dave Archambault, saying they stood with the tribe in their efforts to stop the pipeline from being built near the tribe’s water source.
“The Democratic Party of New Mexico commits to the right of Indian Tribes to have meaningful tribal consultation in any matters Indian Tribes deem to warrant this guarantee, and we are appalled that the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe has not been afforded respect and consideration regarding this matter,” the letter reads.
The letter is signed by Debra Haaland, the first Native American state party chair in the nation. Haaland is a member of the Pueblo of Laguna.
Heinrich also addressed recent responses by police to protesters, which included national guard spraying protesters with cold water and several protesters going to the hospital.
“There is no excuse for the brutality we’ve seen in recent days and it should not be rewarded,” Heinrich said.