ND senator calls for remaining Dakota Access protesters to leave

ND senator calls for remaining Dakota Access protesters to leave
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North Dakota Sen. John HoevenJohn Henry HoevenBottom Line Poll: McConnell is most unpopular senator McConnell ups pressure on White House to get a budget deal MORE (R-N.D.) is pushing tribal officials to help vacate a protest camp set up for those demonstrating against the Dakota Access pipeline.

A group of about 10,000 protesters established two campsites near the pipeline’s proposed route near the Standing Rock Sioux reservation south of Bismarck this fall. They urged federal officials to deny the project, which the tribe says threatens their drinking water and historic land. 

Protesters — who have experienced sub-zero temperatures and blizzard conditions so far this month — are winterizing the camp so it can survive the severe weather, Reuters reports. Some protesters have fallen sick and were forced to evacuate to an emergency shelter area.

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“We must all follow the rule of law for the safety of everyone and to protect everyone’s rights,” Hoeven said in his statement. 

“As fellow North Dakotans — both native and non-native — we need to work together to restore our long-standing good relationship.”

The Army Corps of Engineers this month announced it would not issue an easement for construction of the project. Standing Rock Tribal Chairman Dave Archambault and others then urged protesters to leave the camps, warning about the potential for severe winter weather. 

As of this weekend, however, about 1,000 protesters remain at the camp in Cannon Ball, N.D., Reuters reports

Most, according to the report, are Native Americans concerned about tribal sovereignty issued raised during the campaign against the Dakota Access Pipeline. Some worry the pipeline’s backers will continue building the project if they leave. 

Hoeven met with Archambault on Monday, and in a statement said tribal leadership should “work with other state leaders to get people to leave the illegal campsite on Army Corps of Engineers land.”

He reiterated his call to build the $3.8 billion, 1,170-mile Dakota Access project, which the Obama administration rejected last month, and he said the government should “provide federal law enforcement personnel and resources to work with our state and local law enforcement professionals to ensure that any future protests are peaceful and within the law.”

A PR firm retained by the tribe didn’t return a request for comment Monday on Archambault’s meeting with Hoeven.