Tribe Leader Calls for Peace at Pipeline Protest: 'Respect Our Lands, Our People, Our Rights'

"We live with so many broken promises," Standing Rock Sioux chairman said.

ByABC News
November 5, 2016, 4:59 AM

— -- The chairman of the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe has called for peace, justice and focus as he leads hundreds of Native American groups and environmentalists pushing to block the four-state Dakota Access Pipeline near the tribe's reservation.

"The Standing Rock Sioux Tribe has always maintained the position that we’re about protecting our water. We’re about protecting our sacred places. We’re about protecting our sovereignty. We’re about protecting the future, our future generations, the children who are not yet born. We have always opposed this pipeline, not for any other reasons, those are our reasons," Tribal Chairman Dave Archambault II told ABC News.

"There’s all these things that happened to tribes over time that were unjust, that were not right. And nobody stood up," Archambault said. "Today, we’re saying no. Don’t put this pipeline here. Enough is enough. Respect our lands, respect our people, respect our rights."

Archambault outlined a long history of injustices that have been committed against indigenous people spanning back generations, the effects of which he says are still palpable to this day.

"We didn’t ask to be the highest poverty rate in the nation. ... And we didn’t do that to ourselves. It’s all the wrongs that took place," Archambault said.

Archambault added that they were not trying to entirely block the 1,172-mile pipeline, and said the tribe would be happy with a reroute away from culturally sacred sites and far from the reservation's water supply, saying a "reroute is a solution that recognizes tribal sovereignty, that recognizes tribal rights."

"We live with so many broken promises," Archambault told ABC News. "Even if they just say, ‘We’re going to reroute this pipeline out of your territory,’ that’s huge for indigenous people. ... We can reroute this and it’s a win that recognizes our rights, our lands."

Kelcy Warren, the CEO of Energy Transfer Partners, the company behind Dakota Access Pipeline, wrote in an internal memo to staff in September that "concerns about the pipeline’s impact on the local water supply are unfounded," and that "multiple archaeological studies conducted with state historic preservation offices found no sacred items along the route."

Archambault urged the hundreds of demonstrators who have convened in Cannon Ball, North Dakota, to remain nonviolent, reiterating calls for peace.

"We’ve always asked that this be peaceful and prayerful," Archambault said. "We don’t condone violence from law enforcement and we don’t condone violence from our water protectors."

ABC News' Evan Simon contributed to this report from Cannon Ball, North Dakota.