Past Symposia

Why Standing Rock Matters:

Can Oil and Water Mix?

If you could not attend the forum, you can now view HERE on YouTube.

 On television and in the newspaper, headlines read: “Standing Rock Sioux Sues Army Corps Over Dakota Access Pipeline Approval,” “Support Grows Despite Arrests at Dakota Access Pipeline Protest,” “ABC, NBC Censor Largest Native Mobilization In Decades Against Dakota Access Pipeline,” “National protest over Dakota pipeline draws hundreds to rallies in Dallas, other cities,” and“Dallas' Kelcy Warren: Water concerns about Dakota Access pipeline 'unfounded.’”  

What is Standing Rock and its history? Where exactly is the Dakota Access Pipeline?  What could the energy corporation behind the Dakota Access Pipeline have anticipated or done differently? What is the basis of the dispute - water? Native American rights? Archaeological sites?  Can there be a protocol for moving forward in anticipation of future corporate and tribal negotiations?  Why does this all matter?  

Moderated by associate professor of Corporate Communications and Public Affairs in Meadows School of the Arts Ben Voth, these questions, among others, were be explored by the following invited panelists:

  • ARCHAEOLOGY - Kelly Morgan is president of Lakota Consulting LLC, which provides professional cultural and tribal liaison services in field archaeology.  She works to protect cultural and natural resources alongside other archaeologists and environmentalists in North Dakota, Montana, South Dakota and on the island of Guam.  Currently she is the Tribal Archaeologist for Standing Rock Sioux Tribe.  Morgan received her PhD. in American Indian Studies at the University of Oklahoma.

  • ENERGY - Craig Stevens is a spokesman for the Midwest Alliance for Infrastructure Now (MAIN), a partnership aimed at supporting the economic development and energy security benefits in the Midwest. MAIN is a project of the Iowa State Building and Construction Trades Council, with members in Iowa, North Dakota, South Dakota, and Illinois – the states crossed by the proposed Dakota Access Pipeline.  Previously Stevens served as a spokesman for two cabinet secretaries, a surgeon general, and a member of Congress.  He also worked on two presidential campaigns.
  • TRIBAL HISTORY – Cody Two Bears, Standing Rock Sioux Tribal Councilman and tribal member who represents the Cannon Ball district of the Standing Rock Sioux in North Dakota.

  • LAW - Eric Reed (Choctaw Nation), J.D., is a Dallas lawyer who specializes in American Indian Law, Tribal Law, and International Indigenous Rights.  Reed received a B.S in Economics and Finance and a B.A. in Anthropology from SMU and his J.D. from the University of Iowa College of Law.  

  • MECHANICAL - Tayeb “Ty” Benchaita is a managing partner of B&G Products and Services LLP, a consulting company in Houston that specializes in products quality control and assurance, products manufacturing and operations for the oil, fuels petrochemical, oil refining, lubricants, re-refining, and environmental industries. He holds a Ph.D. in Mechanical Engineering from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and executive management training from the Harvard Business School.

  • PUBLIC POLICY - Michael Lawson is president of MLL Consulting which provides historical research and analysis for government agencies, Native American tribes, law firms and other private clients.  Additionally, he is Of Counsel to Morgan, Angel & Associates, L.L.C. in Washington, D.C., where he formerly served as a Partner.  Lawson received his Ph.D. in American History and Cultural Anthropology from the University of New Mexico and is author of Dammed Indians Revisited: The Continuing History of the Pick-Sloan Plan and the Missouri River Sioux (South Dakota State Historical Society: 2010). 

Co-sponsored by SMU's William P. Clements Center for Southwest Studies and the Maguire Energy Institute

With support from SMU's Dedman College of Humanities & Sciences, the Edwin L. Cox School of Business, the William P. Clements Department of History, the Dedman College Interdisciplinary Institute though the Scott-Hawkins Fund, and the Center for Presidential History