One of the great ironies of the protests against the Dakota Access Pipeline is that the protesters expect the pipeline company and law enforcement to follow the law exactingly. They and their activist lawyers are ready to file suit over any perceived deviation from regulation or policy.
Yet the protesters themselves regularly flout the law, engaging in trespass and vandalism and even acts of outright violence. One of their biggest transgressions has been setting up large camps on federal land despite a lack of a permit from the federal government and the impact the lawful owner of grazing rights on that land.
But now it seems the protesters will be moving their camps to Standing Rock tribal land. Or, at least, that’s the plan anyway.
“Standing Rock Sioux Tribe Chairman Dave Archambault II says the tribal council voted for 8-5 for the move to its reservation so that permanent structures can be built to protect protesters from winter weather. Archambault says he hopes the move will be done soon,” the Associated Press reports.
“Protesters do not have a federal permit to be on that land, but the federal agency had said it wouldn’t evict them due to free speech reasons,” the report continues.
Mike Nowatzki, though, has a somewhat different take on the tribe’s announcement:
The Standing Rock Sioux Tribal Council has voted to set aside tribally owned land for Dakota Access Pipeline protesters to relocate from U.S. Army Corps of Engineers land in southern Morton County, but Tribal Chairman Dave Archambault II stopped short of saying the tribe is moving the existing camp.
“We’re trying to work with everybody in the area and we’re trying to build consensus, and we’re trying to do the best we can to accommodate safety,” he said Wednesday, Oct. 19.
If this actually happens it will be a step toward the protesters holding themselves to the same standard they hold everyone else. Let’s hope that progress continues.
But I wonder if it will happen. There have been indications from the leaders of the encampments that they aren’t interested in moving. I hope they do.
North Dakota Governor Jack Dalrymple has questioned whether or not Standing Rock Tribal Chairman David Archambault is really in control of the often unlawful and sometimes violent protests, saying the chairman has told him privately that he is not in control.
Archambault has denied saying any such thing.
This proposed move may prove which of these men is right.