The Standing Rock Sioux Tribe is on a crusade to stop construction of the Dakota Access Pipeline. The 1,100-mile conduit would carry nearly 600,000 gallons daily from North Dakota's Bakken oil fields near tribal lands before turning eastward toward Illinois.
The battle over the middle of nowhere has garnered media interest from both coasts. Tensions between Sioux members and construction workers slowly boil. Tomorrow, the hot potato lands on the desk of the Minneapolis City Council.
Council Member Alondra Cano's grandly-titled "Expressing Solidarity With Indigenous Resistance to the Dakota Access Pipeline" asks her 12 colleagues "to stand in support of Indigenous opposition." She wants them to "call on all residents of Minneapolis to raise awareness" and support the Sioux "in any way they can."
Fellow council members won't publicly discuss the one-page document.
Hundreds of oil trains from North Dakota roll through Minneapolis monthly en route to faraway refineries. The National Transportation Safety Board has repeatedly said that if an oil train was to explode or derail in a major metro area like the Twin Cities, the results would be "catastrophic."
The Dakota Access Pipeline would largely replace the need of these rail cars.
Cano did not respond to repeated messages left at her office yesterday.
Dan McConnell of the Minneapolis Building and Construction Trades Council is one of the four authors of a letter delivered to council members last week. The letter writers oppose the resolution for a number of reasons, including safeguarding the city from potential oil train emergencies.
"None of us are unsympathetic to the issue of this pipeline on indigenous lands," he tells City Pages. "There are hard decisions in life sometimes, and sometimes you must pick a side.
"On this one it's what best for the people of Minneapolis, the people the officials were elected to represent. Why they're being asked to support an issue that's hundreds of miles away over the residents here is beyond me."