ND State Historic Preservation Office says no historical sites found along Dakota Access Pipeline route during review

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BISMARCK, N.D. - Sacred burial sites are part of the Dakota Access Pipeline construction issue.

Members of the Standing Rock Sioux say they are being destroyed, but members of the Public Service Commission defended the permitting process and say there are no significant historical sites along the route.

Violence erupted over the weekend. Protesters say construction crews were destroying sites of cultural importance.

Wednesday, the agency which granted the Dakota Access Pipeline permits says there are no sites along the current route according to their surveys.

"They identified 509 different cultural resources along the route and, through various means of avoiding them, changing the route slightly or coming up with a mitigation effort, signed off by the SHPO, those issues, all of those resources were addressed," says Julie Fedorchak Public Service Commissioner.

Fedorchak presented reporters with months of letters which showed no sites of historical significance were found along the route.

North Dakota Century code states:

"Any historical or archaeological artifact which is, significant in understanding and interpreting the history and prehistory of the state, may not be destroyed without the approval of the state historical board."

Paul Picha of the State Historic Preservation Office says no sites of that definition were found in the Dakota Access Pipeline route.

"There is no evidence in the documents we reviewed. There weren't sites of that nature that were identified and reported in the documents we reviewed," says Picha.

But his office does not have to confirm those findings with a tribal archaeologist.

The commission says they were available for input from the tribe over the 13 months they vetted the pipeline. Now it's time for cooler heads to prevail.

"If the judge determines the review is adequate, then construction needs to continue. If the judge reviews it's not, he will say what's not and then that will need to be addressed. But the focus now is that law and order needs to be followed. Whatever the judge says need to be upheld and let this thing play out," says Brian Kalk Publkic Service Commissioner.

Standing Rock Sioux Tribal Chairman Dave Archambault responded to the commission and said that the commission had not addressed their concerns and that they believe their sacred sites are being destroyed by Dakota Access Pipeline construction.