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Listening sessions established to allow tribal input on federal infrastructure projects

WASHINGTON - Federal agencies have scheduled a listening session and tribal consultations in six regions of the country in response to concerns raised by the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe's challenge of the Dakota Access Pipeline.

WASHINGTON - Federal agencies have scheduled a listening session and tribal consultations in six regions of the country in response to concerns raised by the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe's challenge of the Dakota Access Pipeline.

The U.S. Departments of the Army, Interior and Justice on Friday invited representatives from all 567 federally recognized tribes to participate in formal, government-to-government consultation on how federal review of infrastructure projects can better allow for timely and meaningful tribal input.

The consultations will focus on how the federal government can better ensure meaningful tribal input and will also explore whether new legislation should be proposed to Congress.

The three agencies announced on Sept. 9 their intention to hold these meetings after issues raised by the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe and other tribal nations regarding Dakota Access and other infrastructure-related decision-making.

Standing Rock Sioux Tribe Chairman Dave Archambault II said in a statement the tribe welcomes the Obama's administration invitation.

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"The Standing Rock Sioux Tribe are fighting for our lives, our people and our sacred places because of a failed process for approval of the Dakota Access Pipeline," he said.

Archambault added that the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers should do a full environmental impact statement of the Dakota Access route.

"This invitation is a good start but the government has a lot more to do to permanently protect the millions of people who rely on the Missouri River for water and who are put at serious risk because of this pipeline," he said.

A listening session is set for 6 p.m. Oct. 11 in Phoenix at the National Congress of American Indians 73rd annual convention.

In the Great Plains, the agencies have scheduled the following tribal consultations, with the specific venues to be announced at a later date:

Billings, Mont.: 8:30 a.m.-12:30 p.m. on Nov. 2.

Minneapolis: 8:30 a.m.-12:30 p.m. on Nov. 15.

Rapid City, S.D.: 8:30 a.m.-12:30 p.m. on Nov. 17.

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In addition, a teleconference is scheduled for 12:30-4:30 p.m. Nov. 21, with a call-in number to be announced soon.

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