Standing Rock Sioux considers Lake Oahe bridge idea
FORT YATES, N.D. (AP) — The Standing Rock Sioux Tribe is seeking a $6.7 million grant to research building a bridge across the Missouri River’s Lake Oahe.
The tribe has applied for a grant from the U.S. Department of Transportation that’s for projects with a significant local or regional impact, the Bismarck Tribune reported .
The tribe hopes to use the grant funding to commission an environmental impact statement on a proposed crossing near Fort Yates. The statement process is expected to take about six years, which would then position the project for full design and construction.
Lake Oahe cut transportation connections between the west side of the Missouri River in Sioux County and Emmons County to the east when it was created in 1958. The bridge idea was introduced as early as the 1970s but floundered mainly due to concerns over the disruptions to burial sites and other cultural issues, said Ron His Horse Is Thunder, the tribe’s director of transportation planning and development.
The tribe’s concerns have been eased because technology now allows for a more complete search of burial sites, he said.
“The tribe is a little bit more receptive to the idea that, OK, if we do this bridge, we’ll use this new technology and these cultural sites will be found and they will be protected,” His Horse Is Thunder said.
A bridge would support the Standing Rock Reservation’s agriculture and ranching economy as well as communities surrounding the reservation and across the river, His Horse Is Thunder said.
“It’s not just about the reservation economy, it’s about the whole area’s economy and how it ties to the national economy,” he said. “It would be great for ag producers in terms of opening up their markets.”
His Horse Is Thunder said the tribe won’t know if it received the grant until November.
Information from: Bismarck Tribune, http://www.bismarcktribune.com