Earlier this week a bit of a war of words erupted between Governor Jack Dalrymple and Standing Rock Sioux Tribe Chairman David Archambault.
It started when Dalrymple said Archambault admitted to him that he’d lost control of the protests against the Dakota Access Pipeline. “I have spoken with him regularly and it’s clear that he has reached a point where he wishes it would remain 100 percent peaceful, but he’s told me many, many times that he is no longer in control in the camp or in any way over the protesters,” he told KFYR talk radio host Scott Hennen in an interview (audio here).
Archambault disputed this claim. “I never did tell the governor I lost control of the camp,” he told reporter Mike Nowatzki. “I shared with him the dynamics and how I stress peace and nonviolence all the time – never was the word control used. I shared with the governor all the good things happening at the camp.”
Nobody except Archambault and the Governor knows what was really said during their conversations, but whatever was said it’s clear from the facts on the ground that Archambault is not in control.
Consider Archambault’s efforts to move people in illegal camps on U.S. Army Corps of Engineers property onto tribal land. Not only are those camps not permitted by the Corps – in fact, one of the camps is trampling all over grazing rights purchased by an area rancher – but law enforcement has identified them as the source of most of the unlawful and sometimes violent activities against the pipeline.
But the organizers in those camps have made it clear that they aren’t going to listen to Archambault:
Cody Hall, a member of South Dakota’s Cheyenne River Sioux Tribe and spokesman for the Red Warrior Camp within the Oceti Sakowin Camp, said many of the roughly 1,500 campers are winterizing their temporary and semi-permanent structures and aren’t waiting for a decision from Standing Rock.
“Some people are saying forget it, we’re going to do our own things. Because every day that they wait is just a day that gets colder and colder,” he said.
Archambault would have us believe that he’s in control, yet he clearly is not.
Meanwhile, Archambault continues to reject calls to expel those protesters guilty of illegal or violent activities. “When building unity amongst tribes it’s never good to ask anyone to leave. The actions are not happening at the camp. I asked that if there are any actions that they are done with no violence,” he told reporter Mike Nowatzki.
Maybe Archambault rejects these calls because he knows he couldn’t expel them even if he wanted to.