As much as anyone, Standing Rock Tribal Chairman David Archambault stands a the genesis of the #NoDAPL protests. It was his call earlier this year for other tribes and environmental activists to join his people here in North Dakota which sparked the movement.
Yet today was one of the ugliest days of protesting to date, and where was Chairman Archambault? Not in North Dakota.
During a press conference this afternoon Governor Jack Dalrymple was asked by reporters if he’d spoken to Archambault. Dalrymple said they had spoken yesterday and that he urged the chairman to ask his people to protest peacefully and stop trespassing and other illegal activites:
But left unsaid during the press conference is that Archambault isn’t even in North Dakota right now. I noted this earlier today, but I think it’s worth reiterating.
While the protesters he called to North Dakota were rioting – while his people were clashing with police, with some saying they were willing to die today – Archambault wasn’t leading them. He was meeting with New York City leaders:
There are a couple of possible explanations for this.
On one hand, maybe despite Archambault’s claims to the contrary he’s not really in control of these protests. Maybe he’s just a figurehead, with other factions having taken over.
On the other hand, maybe Archambault doesn’t care that there was violence in North Dakota today. Maybe his repeated claims to support peaceful, prayerful demonstrations was just a line he’s feeding credulous reporters.
Either way, Archambault hobnobbing in New York today instead of leading this protest movement he helped create through one of its most harrowing moments was a poor choice, I think.