A North Dakota senator who was vocal in his support of the Dakota Access Pipeline (DAPL) and called for an increased federal response to stop the peaceful pipeline protesters has been named the new chairman of the U.S. Senate Committee on Indian Affairs, according to Mic.
Senator John Hoeven, a republican and former governor of North Dakota, said in a statement on Thursday that he was honored to serve in his new role and looked forward to working with other members of the committee “to pass legislation that helps improve the lives of people across Indian Country.”
“In our roles, we will address the issues of job creation, natural resource management, health care, education, public safety and housing in Indian communities,” Hoeven said.
Many are questioning the appointment of Hoeven, as he has repeatedly supported many causes that Native American tribes have opposed, such as the Dakota Access Pipeline.
Hoeven called the 2016 DAPL peaceful protests, which were led by members of the Standing Rock Sioux reservation and joined by other Native Americans and allies from across the country, “violent” and asked President Obama to deploy federal law enforcement to subdue them, Huffington Post reported.
“We recommend you provide federal law enforcement resources immediately to state and local agencies in order to maintain public safety, which has been threatened by ongoing — and oftentimes violent — protest activity.”
As the Inquisitr has previously reported, nearly a thousand DAPL protesters — most of whom are Native American — are remaining at the protest camps near Standing Rock despite harsh winter conditions.
Hoeven may find himself at odds with his new Vice Chairman, Tom Udall, who has gone on record supporting the peaceful DAPL protesters and has a history of supporting Native American and environmental issues.
In a statement in early December after the president and the Army Corps of Engineers denied an easement for the DAPL to cross under Lake Oahe in North Dakota, Udall said he applauded the decision to stop the pipeline.
“Over the last seven months, thousands of people, including Indian nations from New Mexico and across North America, have demonstrated their deep concern about the lack of consultation by the federal government and the potential environmental hazard this pipeline poses for the water. They have stood up for their rights despite harsh weather and the use of inexcusable violence against them.”
Udall, a democratic senator from New Mexico, went on to say that he and Native American people from his state understood the importance of the protests.
“All New Mexicans know that water is life, and throughout our history we have seen environmental injustices done time and again to Native people. That is one reason many New Mexicans are among the protesters at Standing Rock. The Army Corps of Engineers is right — there is much more work to be done to consult with the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe and ensure the water is protected.”
Udall also spoke out against the violence used against the peaceful protesters.
The Indian Affairs committee is in charge of addressing concerns pertaining to American Indian, Native Hawaiian, and Alaska Native people. This includes land management and economic development, in addition to other issues.
Former committee Vice Chairman Jon Tester said that he looks forward to working with Chairman Hoeven and Vice Chairman Udall “to ensure that our nation’s trust and treaty responsibilities are upheld across all of Indian Country.”
“I am confident that during this session of Congress the Senate Indian Affairs Committee will continue its long history of working across the aisle to promote tribal sovereignty and strengthen economic opportunities, health care and education for all Native American and Alaska Native families,” he said.
[Featured Image by Scott Olson/Getty Images]