Group Requests Details On “Backroom Dealings” Before DAPL Permit Decision

Few members of the Standing Rock Sioux have as many ties to Washington, D.C. as Jodi Gillette, the sister of the tribe’s chairman, Dave Archambault II. When Gillette retired from her position in the Obama White House, Bismarck’s paper wrote that “Jodi Gillette probably has been more involved in the Obama administration than any other North Dakotan.” Now these ties are the subject of a Freedom of Information Act request seeking to see if she used her ties to the administration to influence decisions about the Dakota Access Pipeline.

On Tuesday, the Center for Individual Freedom filed a Freedom of Information Act request seeking “ all records since February 1, 2016, related in any way to the Dakota Access Pipeline (DAPL) and Jodi Gillette,” including emails, visitor logs, and meeting minutes.

“There have been a lot of rumors about the backroom dealings that led to the Administration’s decision to not issue the final easement for the Dakota Access Pipeline,” said Timothy Lee, CFIF’s Senior Vice President of Legal and Public Affairs, who filed the FOIA request.

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FOIA Requests Seek Information Dakota Access Pipeline Decision

The Center for Individual Freedom (CFIF) has sent a number of Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) requests seeking information on communications with Jodi Gillette regarding the Dakota Access Pipeline. Gillette, a former advisor to President Obama and the sister of the David Archambault, the chairman of the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe, has played a leading role in the misguided efforts to derail the multibillion dollar pipeline project.

In a statement, Timothy Lee, CFIF’s Senior Vice President of Legal and Public Affairs, expressed concern about the lack of transparency and potential conflicts of interests related to the Army Corps’ decision to indefinitely delay a federal easement for the pipeline.

“There have been a lot of rumors about the backroom dealings that led to the Administration’s decision to not issue the final easement for the Dakota Access Pipeline,” Lee said. “We would hope that the self-purported ‘most transparent Administration in history’ would provide the American people with the background and information that went into this important decision to halt an infrastructure project that had already been approved and was more than 90 percent complete.”

The requests, which were sent to the Departments of Interior, Justice and Energy, as well as the Bureau of Indian Affairs and the Army Corps of Engineers, outline CFIF’s concerns about improper influence over the Obama administration’s actions:

There is growing concern about the relationship between Dave Archambault II’s sister, Jodi Gillette, and the Obama Administration. Mr. Archambault is the chairman of the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe (SRST) and a critic of the project. Ms. Gillette is a former senior advisor to the President and Secretary of the Interior, and is currently a lobbyist on behalf of the Standing Rock Sioux with Sonosky, Chambers, Chambers, Endreson & Perry, LLP. We seek to ensure that Mr. Archambault and Ms. Gillette haven’t wielded improper influence over the Administration’s policies that have resulted in delays in the completion of the Dakota Access Pipeline project.

I request access to and copies of all records since February 1, 2016, related in any way to the Dakota Access Pipeline (DAPL) and Jodi Gillette. This request includes, but is not limited to, all emails, other correspondence, correspondence logs, records of meetings, records of appointments and visitor logs.

CFIF is currently reviewing other potential FOIA requests on the matter.

Problems Continue At Standing Rock Protest Camp

A recent InsideSources article highlights a tribal meeting regarding the move of the encampments from the flood zone of the Cannonball and Missouri River. Once snows begin to melt in the spring, the camp is threatened by floodwaters at the confluence of the rivers, further demonstrating the ongoing hazard of the non-permanent structures erected at the protest camp.

The article also notes the fractures within the camp and the tribe, as well as the poaching allegations by North Dakota Game and Fish that has caught recent attention.

“Poaching is taking place here, from the camp. There are pictures from it. I saw a video of a deer swimming in circles and then getting stabbed at the camp at the Cannonball River,” said Standing Rock Chairman Dave Archambault. “I saw another picture of a mule deer buck being skinned by non-Indians.”

According to the article, “Signs of the shift from a tribally-driven to tribally-inclusive protest were visible even this fall, when the Oceti Sakowin camp began requiring new arrivals to attend morning orientations and daily camp meetings. The orientations became necessary when outside volunteers began to outnumber tribal members. Increasingly, orientation served to teach non-native protesters how to avoid inadvertently interfering with traditional ceremonies and worship practices.”

What remains remarkable is that despite an ebb in the camp’s population, millions in donated funds from across America remain in the hands of the tribe who has promised to “pay down tribal debts.” Meanwhile the protest camp remains open despite well documented hygiene and public health issues, and continued arrests, bringing the total people arrested since August 10th 2016 to 584.

As the rift grows between pro-camp and anti-camp factions within the tribe, as well as outside pressure from environmental activists, shutting the camp down remains the right decision for the tribal, state, and federal government.

At Protest Camp, Standing Rock Tribe Addresses Poaching, Potential Flooding

The Dakota Access Pipeline protests may have begun this summer as a small gathering of members of the Standing Rock Sioux tribe, but they have grown. Now, the protests have become a movement with ties to environmental protests around the country and allies around the world. Recent signs show that as the protests have grown, the Native American elements are increasingly diluted, leading to fractures between the camp and the Standing Rock tribe itself.

Standing Rock chairman Dave Archambault II tacitly acknowledged this at a tribal council meeting on Thursday. The meeting discussed moving the encampments away from areas beside the river that are likely to flood when the snowmelt begins.

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Hypocrisy at Standing Rock

It seems that hypocrisy and untruths know no bounds these days.

Peaceful protests? Hardly. What happened over the weekend shows the brutal actions by the opponents of the Dakota Access Pipeline are becoming more commonplace. More than 250 protesters charged 14 Dakota Access security personnel Saturday with rocks, pipe, and other weapons, sending workers to the hospital. Is this the “peaceful protest” that Chairman Archambault is condoning?  We want to know.

But what about the resources needed to protest the pipeline? As we’ve seen, you need a lot of oil to protest oil pipelines.

In fact, we learned today that many of the protesters may have been purchasing gasoline and diesel fuel from the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe’s very own chairman, David Archambault II.

That’s right— Chairman Archambault is a proud owner of his very own gas station —the Cannon Ball Pit Stop. He’s managed to assemble thousands of protesters at a “spirit camp” conveniently located just a few miles away from his small business, which is likely turning a nice profit these days.



Chairman Archambault’s personal website and resume prominently note that he’s been the “Owner/Manager” of the gas station from 2011 to present.  He touted this fact when he ran for Chairman of the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe.

David Archambault


Is it not rather ironic that a man opposed to a crude oil pipeline due to its potential impact on the environment has no issue profiting from one of the most important by-products of American-produced crude oil?  We think so.  “Do as I say not as I do” would be a good new mantra for the small but vocal group at Standing Rock opposed to Dakota Access.

The Myths and Facts Behind the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe Claims

The Standing Rock Sioux Tribe has made many accusations toward Dakota Access and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers that just aren’t true. We’ve debunked many other claims as false, and discovered that hundreds of consultations were held on the pipeline project with Native American tribes and nations. Here are a few more of the myths being spread, and the real facts behind them. 


The more you look, the more you realize that the claims of the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe and their radical environmental allies at EarthJustice don’t add up.

Everyone is entitled to their opinions, and public discourse is important on a project of this scale. But after nearly two years of thorough review and final approval by multiple state and federal regulatory agencies, the time has come to construct the pipeline.

Native American Tribes Were Consulted Throughout Pipeline Review Process

It’s a popular claim of the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe that there was “no meaningful consultation” with Native American Tribes and Nations regarding the placement of the Dakota Access Pipeline. But like many other claims, this just simply isn’t true. 


In fact, the United States Government, through the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers had 389 meetings and contacts with Native American tribes according to an exhibit filed as a part of the USACE Opposition to Plaintiff’s Motion for Preliminary Injunction in the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia.

So which Native American tribes and nations were included in these contacts? Take a look at the long list of those consulted. Notice a familiar name? That’s right, The Standing Rock Sioux Tribe is listed and was contacted as part of the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers comprehensive review. Despite their claims to the contrary tribes were contacted and consulted multiple times throughout the review process.

“Our tribe has opposed the Dakota Access pipeline since we first learned about it in 2014… permits for the project were approved and construction began without meaningful consultation.” (Dave Archamabult, “Taking a Stand at Standing Rock” New York Times Op-Ed, 8/24/16)

The more you look, the more it seems the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe is just looking for the best narrative to state their case, rather than presenting the real facts behind their case.

This is the reality: the Dakota Access Pipeline was approved by numerous state and federal organizations in consultation with Native American tribal officers and historic preservation experts.

Despite the facts, the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe continues to spread falsities

The statements of Standing Rock Sioux Tribe (SRST) just don’t add up, and the facts are clear. Despite multiple statements to the contrary, the SRST and their allies have in fact been consulted multiple times by both Dakota Access and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers prior to construction of the pipeline.

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In a lawsuit filed by the radical environmental group EarthJustice on behalf of the SRST claims that, “Neither [Dakota Access] nor the Corps ever consulted with the Tribe…or had invited their participation as the Tribe had repeatedly requested.” The Chairman of SRST, David Archambault, wrote in the New York Times last week that, “permits for the project were approved and construction began without meaningful consultation.”

While this narrative might play well in the media, it could not be further from the truth.

A basic examination of documents provided by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers and state utility boards, as well as filings by the Corps of Engineers and Dakota Access in the United States District Court for the District of Columbia shows the SRST and environmental allies met with regulators multiple times, and filed over a hundred comments throughout state and federal review periods. Filings also show that Dakota Access made seven attempts to meet with the tribe directly but were rejected every time.

Spreading misinformation and ignoring inconvenient facts is not the proper way to foster meaningful discussion. Based on these revelations, it’s hard not to wonder what other fictional tales the SRST and EarthJustice would like to have us believe.

Media Questions Sincerity of Tribal Leader’s Call for Peace

In a new opinion piece, Rob Port, editor of, argues that anti-Dakota Access Pipeline protesters have done little to change their tactics and that it still remains unclear if Archambault even stands behind what he said.

“Over the last days, I have spent a great deal of time, meeting and speaking with participants in the demonstration, tribal government and spiritual leaders, state and local law enforcement officials and others,” Standing Rock Chairman David Archambault said in a statement released to the media this last week. “In all of these meetings, my message has been consistent — we need to work together in peace.”

That stands at odds with the dozens of arrests made by law enforcement officers for infractions like trespassing and disorderly conduct. In fact, Archambault himself was arrested and charged with disorderly conduct for allegedly shoving law enforcement officers on the protest line.

If Archambault’s goal is peace, can we say that he has pursued that goal through his own actions?

Port goes on to highlight recent comments by law enforcement officers that have been continuously intimidated, threatened, and even assaulted by protestors.

“Pipeline construction has been halted in the area of the protest as law enforcement officers have encountered weapons, threats of pipe bombs and assaults on private security,” Forum News Service reporter Amy Dalrymple wrote earlier this week.

Morton County Sheriff Kyle Kirchmeier told the Bismarck Tribune that “his officers have been threatened.”

“This is really dangerous down here,” Cass County Sheriff Paul Laney, whose department has been assisting Kirchmeier’s during the protests, told Fargo Forum reporter Robin Huebner.

Archambault had ample opportunity to present his concerns last fall during the three North Dakota Public Service Commission hearings on the pipeline, but neglected to do so. “These groups didn’t come to our hearings,” said Public Service Commissioner Brian Kalk in an interview with the Bismarck Tribune.

As a coalition we agree with Port that everyone has a right to be heard and all viewpoints deserve equal consideration. That said, the Standing Rock’s failure to participate in the formal regulatory review process does not grant them the right to trample the voices of others who chose to be involved in the project’s evaluation.