The likelihood of increasing tension, violence, and mass arrests over the Dakota Access Pipeline is quickly increasing, as the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers is ordering the shut down of Oceti Sakowin, the Water Protectors’ Main Camp, and threatening arrests. The Water Protectors are refusing to leave.
In a nut shell, the federal government is bailing on the Water Protectors. North Dakota law enforcement has used excessive force against the Water Protectors, including water cannons in freezing temperatures and tear gas. Instead of investigating the situation or intervening on behalf of the Standing Rock Nation and its allies, the federal government is pulling the permit for the Water Protectors to be on federal land. The Water Protectors have to leave by Dec. 5 or face arrest, according to CNN and other news sources.
NBC is reporting tonight that the Water Protectors are vowing to stay, regardless of the order.
There are several camps. The Sacred Stones Camp is south of the Cannon Ball River on Standing Rock Nation land. Oceti Sakowin, the main camp, sits on federal land. Until recently the federal government had given the Water Protectors a permit to be there. The Main Camp includes other camps, such as the Red Warrior Camp.
According to CNN’s report, the Army Corps of Engineers provided the following justification for pulling the permit:
“This decision is necessary to protect the general public from the violent confrontation between protestors and law enforcement officials that have occurred in this area, and to prevent death, illness, or serious injury to inhabitants of encampments due to the harsh North Dakota winter conditions,” Col. John Henderson of the Corps said in a letter to the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe leader.
In other words, in order to protect the public from violence, the federal government will force people off federal land rather than deal with the cause of the violence — overzealous law enforcement officials.
Here is a statement issued today by Standing Rock Chairman David Archambault II. It carried the headline “Tribe calls on President Obama again to deny easement and honor treaty.” It read in part:
It is both unfortunate and ironic that this [Army Corps of Engineers] announcement comes the day after this country celebrates Thanksgiving – a historic exchange of goodwill between Native Americans and the first immigrants from Europe. Although the news is saddening, it is not at all surprising given the last 500 years of the treatment of our people. We have suffered much, but we still have hope that the President will act on his commitment to close the chapter of broken promises to our people and especially our children.”
Other related news stories:
- Indian Country Today: Army Corps Issues Eviction Notice to Standing Rock Sioux Tribe
NRP: Army Corps Of Engineers Tells Pipeline Protesters To Leave Camp By Dec. 5
- The Guardian: Standing Rock protesters will not follow official directive to leave camps
The federal government’s decision to pull the Oceti Sakowin Camp permit, and the federal government’s inaction to intervene in the face of a disproportionate law enforcement response, is stunning.
To repeat previous posts, here is a list of statements — either in support of Standing Rock or critical of the law enforcement response — to which the government is apparently turning a deaf ear:
- Sen. Cory Booker wrote a letter to the U.S. Attorney General Nov. 25 asking her to send monitors and investigate the situation.
- The Native American Rights Fund wrote a letter to the U.S. Attorney General on Nov. 23 seeking federal intervention and investigation into Morton County’s violent response to the water protectors.
- United Nations High Commission on Human Rights issued a statement Nov. 15 saying: “Native Americans facing excessive force in North Dakota pipeline protests – UN expert”
- The Evangelical Lutheran Church in America issued a statement Nov. 14 by ELCA presiding bishop expressing support for Standing Rock.
- A UN Expert released a report on Nov. 1 on the “Conditions Surrounding the Dakota Access Pipeline,” which was reprinted Nov. 9 in Cultural Survivor.
- The Minnesota Annual Conference of the United Methodist Church issued a statement Aug. 31: Mni Wiconi (Lakota for “Water is Life”), by Bishop Bruce R. Ough
- The Mennonite Central Committee issued a statement Aug. 31 supporting the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe, written by Michelle Armster, MCC Central States Executive Director
- The Unitarian Universalist Association issued a statement Aug. 30 by the UUA President Rev. Peter Morales titled: Join Me In Opposing the Dakota Access Pipeline
- The Presbyterian Church USA issued a statement on Aug. 29 offering support for Standing Rock Sioux protest in North Dakota
- The Episcopal Church issued a statement Aug. 25 by Presiding Bishop Michael Curry: Statement in support of the advocacy of the people of Standing Rock Sioux Reservation
- The United Church of Christ issued a Collegium statement Aug. 23: Commentary: Awakening the Nation with Action against Pipeline