Last night Governor Doug Burgum traveled to Cannonball, North Dakota, on the Standing Rock Indian Reservation to hear concerns from citizens there over the #NoDAPL protests.
The visit was a big deal. “Tribal elders said it was the first time they could recall a sitting North Dakota governor coming to meet with residents in Cannon Ball,” a release from Burgum’s office states (read it below).
Kudos to Burgum for making the trip. It’s clear his fresh approach to relations with the tribe is paying off. Which isn’t necessarily a criticism of the previous administration. While I think Dalrymple could have been more engaged, Archambault and the tribe seemed less willing to cooperate last year. Burgum is benefiting from some shifting attitudes on the tribe’s side, I think.
Though we shouldn’t let that truth diminish his efforts. He’s doing a good job.
Speaking of shifting attitudes, per the release dozens of members of the Cannonball community, which is just to the south of the protest camps, said they were pretty fed up with the situation protesters have put them in:
Residents shared their concerns about the impacts of the ongoing Dakota Access Pipeline protests, explaining how they hosted people from all over the world but now their resources are stretched thin, they feel less safe and relationships with neighbors have become frayed. They also stressed the inconvenience, health concerns and economic hardship related to the closure of Highway 1806 between Cannon Ball and Bismarck-Mandan and their strong desire to see the Backwater Bridge reopened.
Gov. Burgum acknowledged the impacts and was pleased to hear residents reaffirm their desire to vacate and clean up the main protest camp before spring flooding in order to maintain public safety, avoid river contamination and ensure a safe environment, which is key to a phased reopening of the bridge. The governor also said he looks forward to working with the tribe on issues such as education and health care after the pipeline matter is resolved.
“We can’t change the past,” Burgum said, “but we can change the future by how we work together.”
Meanwhile, Standing Rock Chairman David Archambault has disavowed a recent #NoDAPL protest led by prominent North Dakota Democrat Chase Iron Eyes.
“This group’s actions do not represent the tribe nor the original intent of the water protectors,” he said in a statement per the Bismarck Tribune. “If we are to fight for treaty rights, then we must all work together. Tribes came to Standing Rock in support of our tribe’s effort with the recognition that it will reflect back on us all. This type of action was not undertaken in that spirit, because, instead of empowering us, it undermines us.”
The tribe has been asking for the protest camps to close, and for activists to leave the area, but Iron Eyes – who ran for the U.S. House last year after receiving the endorsement of state Democrats – called for “thousands” of activists to come to the state and “lay our bodies in the way of the destruction of our children’s futures.”
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