black snake

Deception of the Black Snake

Located just 150 miles upriver from Standing Rock lies the Fort Berthold Reservation, home to the Three Affiliated Tribes — the Mandan, Hidatsa and Arikara — known as MHA Nation. Unlike Standing Rock, the Three Affiliated Tribes have openly embraced the oil and gas industry and to date have collected more than $800 million in royalties.

The Three Affiliated Tribes even own an energy company, Missouri River Resources, which operates oil and gas wells in the Fort Berthold area and, through an affiliate, Grey Wolf Midstream, holds a 12 percent interest in a crude oil pipeline.

Not long before the Dakota Access Pipeline was approved, the Sacagawea Pipeline Company—a joint venture between Paradigm Energy Partners, Phillips 66 Partners, and Grey Wolf Midstream—received permission from the North Dakota Public Service Commission to build the Sacagawea Pipeline.

The 91-mile, 16-inch diameter pipeline, which went into service at the end of last year, has the ability to move 200,000 barrels per day from various points south of Lake Sakakawea in Mackenzie County, ND to destinations north of the river near Stanley and Palermo. Similar to Lake Oahe, Lack Sakakawea is a typical lake, but rather an enlarged part of the Missouri River that the pipeline needed to traverse.

Like Dakota Access, the Sacagawea Pipeline was installed under the river using horizontal directional drilling technology that allowed the pipe to be placed at least 100 feet beneath the riverbed.

All of this begs the question, why didn’t protesters flock the banks of Lake Sakakawea to oppose a near identical pipeline crossing? In a failed Feb. 9 legal maneuver, the Cheyenne River Sioux Tribe attempted to halt construction of the Dakota Access Pipeline, saying that the project correlates to a “Black Snake” that will desecrate the waters.

“The Lakota people believe that the pipeline correlates with a terrible Black Snake prophesied to come to Lakota homeland and cause destruction. The Lakota believe that the very existence of the Black Snake under their sacred waters in Lake Oahe will unbalance and desecrate the water and render it impossible for the Lakota to use that water in their Inipi ceremony.”


Why isn’t the Sacagawea Pipeline a “Black Snake” too? After all, the same water that flows through Lake Sakakawea flows through Lake Oahe.

In reality, neither of these projects are “Black Snakes” threatening to desecrate the waters or cause harm. The “Black Snake” is simply another attempt by environmental groups to exploit Native Americans to further their own anti-fossil fuel, keep it in the ground agenda.