Tribal relations: MPL connects with tribe at Pendleton Round-Up

Community News

Sustainability, Foundation
MPL employees in front of their booth at the Pendleton Round-Up. (L to R) Aron Velasquez, Mike Norman, Lauren Salinski, Kearsi Gordon, Paige Chenevey and Brian Phillips.

With over 60,000 individuals in attendance, the Pendleton Round-Up in Pendleton, Oregon, served as an excellent opportunity for Marathon Pipe Line (MPL) to engage stakeholders and lay the foundation for lasting partnerships. In September, members of the MPL public engagement team and Boise area employees attended the 113th Annual Pendleton Round-Up, the largest rodeo in North America. An important element of the nonprofit organization’s mission is to foster the growth of agricultural programs and celebrate Western heritage and culture. Since approximately 3,300 miles of MPL pipelines run through tillable fields and approximately 77 miles of pipeline cross lands of seven Native American tribes and two Native American corporations, the MPL team jumped at the opportunity to engage with stakeholders attending the event and educate them on pipeline safety.

Connecting with the Confederated Tribes

The Confederated Tribes of the Umatilla Indian Reservation (CTUIR) is about a mile from the event location, and members of the tribe attend the Pendleton Round-Up every year. MPL has made it a priority to engage with the CTUIR and seeks to understand how they can support the tribe. Earlier this year, the Umatilla Tribal Fire Department expressed a need for updated first responder equipment to better protect them during an emergency. Marathon Petroleum provided a $70,000 grant to the station for upgraded personal protective gear and new self-contained breathing apparatuses.

The relationship with the CTUIR continued to blossom at the Pendelton Round-Up this year when the MPL team had the privilege to share MPL’s story with a few members of the CTUIR, including Donald Sampson, Executive Director; Aaron Ashley, Board of Trustees Vice Chair; John Barkley, TERO Program Manager; and James Hall, CTUIR Fire Chief.

MPL employees interact with Pendelton Round-Up attendees to share the pipeline safety message and the  importance of calling 811.

“Having the opportunity to meet and connect with members of the General Council, including the Executive Director, was a great honor,” said Kearsi Gordon, Public Engagement Coordinator. “With the help of MPC’s Tribal Affairs Working Group, leaps and bounds have been made in building relationships with the CTUIR, and MPL looks forward to how we can further support the tribe.”

About the Tribal Affairs Working Group

MPC’s Tribal Affairs Working Group is critical to building a relationship with tribal stakeholders founded on trust and understanding. The group serves as a bridge between the tribal stakeholders and MPC business units to provide cultural insight to engage, educate, and share perspectives to assist in building a sustainable, mutually beneficial relationship for both parties.

“As a company, we take a proactive approach to understanding areas of concern and to building sustaining, mutually beneficial relationships with tribes where we have an operational footprint. Through our 26-member Tribal Affairs Working Group, we strive to enhance opportunities for MPC and our tribal stakeholders by anticipating needs, maintaining open dialogue, and working together as valued partners,” said VJ Smith, ESG & Stakeholder Engagement Representative.

The Pendleton Round-Up hosts a grand tribal village each year to symbolize the rich Western culture.