Pro­test­ers defy tribe’s plea to leave

North Dakota pipe­line ac­tivists cite fears of Trump

The Washington Times Weekly - - National - BY VA­LERIE RICHARDSON

The Stand­ing Rock Sioux chair­man called Mon­day for non­tribal ac­tivists to leave the protest area now that the Obama ad­min­is­tra­tion has blocked the Dakota Ac­cess pipe­line, but they’re not go­ing any­where.

Protest lead­ers vowed last Mon­day to remain at the makeshift camps on fed­eral land, point­ing out that En­ergy Trans­fer Part­ners is still de­ter­mined to com­plete the pro­ject even though the U.S. Army Corps of Engi­neers de­nied a pre­vi­ously is­sued ease­ment.

“This is a vic­tory for or­ga­niz­ing, and it doesn’t stop now. We are ask­ing our sup­port­ers to keep up the pres­sure, be­cause while Pres­i­dent Obama has granted us a vic­tory to­day, that vic­tory isn’t guar­an­teed in the next ad­min­is­tra­tion,” said Dal­las Gold­tooth, spokesman for the Indige­nous En­vi­ron­men­tal Net­work.

About 1,000 ac­tivists gath­ered at the Back­wa­ter Bridge on High­way 1806, brav­ing a winter storm that brought blow­ing snow and sub­freez­ing tem­per­a­tures to the protest near Can­non Ball, North Dakota.

“More threats are likely in the year to come, and we can­not stop un­til this pipe­line is com­pletely and ut­terly de­feated, and our wa­ter and cli­mate are safe,” Mr. Gold­tooth said.

The de­ci­sion to remain comes in de­fi­ance of Chair­man Dave Ar­cham­bault II’s call for the demon­stra­tors to leave the camps. He pre­vi­ously has de­cried the en­vi­ron­men­tal dam­age from thou­sands of campers as they burn trash, dig pits for garbage and waste, and scare away wildlife.

“I’m ask­ing them to go,” Mr. Ar­cham­bault told Reuters news agency. “Their pres­ence will only cause the en­vi­ron­ment to be un­safe.”

He noted that the state’s harsh weather makes con­struc­tion un­likely for the next few months, and that he plans to speak in the mean­time to Pres­i­dent-elect Don­ald Trump.

“Noth­ing will hap­pen this winter,” Mr. Ar­cham­bault said.

This isn’t the first time pro­test­ers have ig­nored the tribe. For months, Mr. Ar­cham­bault and tribal el­ders have urged ac­tivists to remain “peace­ful and prayer­ful,” only to watch a vi­o­lent fac­tion set fires, dam­age con­struc­tion equip­ment, and throw rocks, fe­ces and Molo­tov cock­tails at po­lice.

The tribal coun­cil voted Nov. 1 to ask for the de­par­ture of the Red War­rior Camp, seen as the most dan­ger­ous of the camps, but its mem­bers have stayed put while con­tin­u­ing to raise money on­line.

The Stand­ing Rock Sioux’s mis­sion also has been largely sup­planted by that of the “leave it in the ground” move­ment, which seeks to stop fos­sil fuel ex­trac­tion.

The tribe praised the ad­min­is­tra­tion’s de­ci­sion to ex­plore al­ter­na­tive routes for the pipe­line, which runs about a half-mile from the reser­va­tion, over con­cerns about wa­ter qual­ity and his­toric relics.

But en­vi­ron­men­tal­ists want to stop al­to­gether the $3.8 bil­lion pro­ject, which is more than 90 per­cent com­plete.

“I was asked, ‘ When do you con­sider this pipe­line is­sue to be over?’ I said, ‘When every pipe is out of the ground and the earth is re­paired across the United States,’” LaDonna Al­lard, Sa­cred Stone Camp di­rec­tor, said in a state­ment. “I am not ne­go­ti­at­ing, I am not back­ing down. I must stand for our grand­chil­dren and for the wa­ter.”

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