Energy & Environment

Tribe’s leader asks Dakota pipeline protesters to go home

The leader of the American Indian tribe at the center of the Dakota Access pipeline fight is asking the thousands of protesters camped out at a construction site in North Dakota to leave now that the project has been halted.

Dave Archambault II, chairman of the Standing Rock Sioux tribe, said in an open letter that after the Army Corps of Engineers declined to grant the pipeline’s final easement Sunday, there’s no need to carry on with the protest.


“This decision is everything we had asked for: a non-granting of the easement, initiating an Environmental Impact Study, and suggestive of a reroute. We got it!” Archambault exclaimed. “Energy Transfer Partners will face an uphill battle in trying to dismantle the process initiated by this decision.”

The protest camp has been an enduring symbol of the fight, inspiring environmentalists, indigenous rights activists and others around the world to either protest closer to home or travel to North Dakota.

It was also the site of numerous violent clashes with police, including a recent night when law enforcement sprayed protesters with water in below-freezing temperatures.

Archambault said the protest helped keep the developer from trying to build under Lake Oahe. But that’s not where the fight is now.

“While this phase of the struggle relied largely on the protectors at camp, this next stage will be focused on the legal battles, and keeping the current decision in place,” he said.

Furthermore, the harsh North Dakota winter has started, and a blizzard has given dozens of protesters hypothermia.

“We deeply appreciate all the people who supported us with their presence, but when this storm passes, it is time to dismantle the camp and return to our homes. If the camp stays where it is currently located, people are risking their lives,” Archambault said, asking people to leave once the current blizzard ends.

The land hosting the protest camp is adjacent to the Standing Rock reservation and historically belonged to the tribe, but is owned now by the Army Corps.

The Army Corps and North Dakota Gov. Jack Dalrymple (R) both ordered the area evacuated in recent weeks, before the Army Corps’ decision on the easement, although neither the federal nor the state government plans to forcibly remove protesters.

Tags Dakota Access Pipeline oil Standing Rock Sioux tribe

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