The Honorable Barack Obama
President of the United States
The White House
1600 Pennsylvania Ave., N.W.
Washington, D.C. 20500
Dear President Obama,
I am writing at a time of great uncertainty and unease in our nation, and with a deep appreciation of the many ways in which you and your Administration are responding to this difficult moment. At the same time, I respectfully request your renewed attention to the many pressing issues surrounding the Dakota Access Pipeline. I am honored to write as Mayor of Minneapolis, a city blessed with the densest urban American Indian community in our country, as well as with non-Native residents who care deeply about the rights and safety of their Native brothers and sisters.
I appreciated the announcement of the Army Corps of Engineers on November 14, 2016 that more study and consultation is needed before granting an easement, and that that consultation would include the possibility of rerouting the pipeline to reduce the risk of an oil spill that would endanger the Standing Rock Sioux’s vital water supply. However, in the few weeks since then, the situation at Standing Rock and at camp Oceti Sakowin has become even more urgent. The North Dakota winter is now firmly settling in, and confrontations between water protectors and local authorities have escalated to the point that human life is threatened.
Senator Tom Udall of New Mexico sent you a letter on November 30, 2016, a copy of which I have enclosed, that well expresses concerns about the Dakota Access Pipeline that I share. I respectfully echo his requests that you consider all options in responding to the Standing Rock Sioux’s two-year public record of opposing the pipeline, including rerouting it; that the Department of Justice respond to the Tribe’s request to investigate potential civil rights violations; and that the Administration coordinate with all authorities, including Tribal, to ensure the health of safety of law enforcement and water protectors, particularly in the current context of worsening weather and escalation of violence.
Moreover, I have grave concerns about actions that may be taken by the President-elect, who has already stated that the pipeline should and will be built. I am concerned about the harmful effect decisions of his administration may have on the safety of both the authorities and the water protectors. In this pressing context, the residents of Minneapolis and I would greatly appreciate any clear communication you or you Administration can make in the next few weeks about steps you are taking to address the Standing Rock Sioux’s concerns.
Mr. President, I write in deep appreciation of the many ways that you have delivered on your promises to honor our country’s commitment to American Indian nations and communities, and to correct many historical wrongs. No president in memory has done more to partner fully with American Indians as equal, sovereign people. It has been a hallmark of your Administration for which you will be long remembered in Minneapolis, across the country, and around the world.
It has been an honor for the residents of Minneapolis and me to partner closely with your Administration over the last eight years, including the three in which I have served as Mayor. We are a stronger, more prosperous, and more equitable city because of it. You have my most profound thanks, and a continued pledge of my full cooperation as we work together over the next several weeks and beyond, including on a positive resolution of the conflict at Standing Rock.
Mayor Betsy Hodges
City of Minneapolis
NOTE: A PDF version of the letter is available here.