Late last year, after the Obama administration announced that an easement wouldn’t be issued for the Dakota Access Pipeline to cross the Lake Oahe reservoir along its present path, Standing Rock Chairman David Archambault asked the protesters camped out to leave.
The problem? Roughly a thousand or so protesters remain, despite heavy snows and brutal temperatures. In fact, today there was an incident where dozens of protesters went to the Backwater Bridge despite an agreement between law enforcement and Standing Rock to stay away from it.
Here’s video released by Morton County:
So maybe we shouldn’t be surprised that Archambault sounds concerned. In an interview with the Daily Emerald – the student newspaper for the University of Oregon – Archambault describes the situation at the camps as “ugly” and out of control:
T: Do you genuinely want people to leave the camps?
DA: Yeah. There is no purpose for it. What’s the purpose?
T: There seems to be some concerns for safety in the camps; how should these concerns be addressed?
DA: I don’t want that pipeline to go through. I just don’t want anyone to get hurt, I don’t want anyone to die, I don’t want any kids to get abused, I don’t want any elders to get abused, I don’t want any rapes to happen. They don’t want any authority down there. What do you do then? Do I have to close it down with force?
Archambault says he doesn’t want to shut the camps down by force, because he doesn’t want “another Wounded Knee,” and goes on to say that the camps turned from something beautiful into something ugly that’s about money:
What I saw happen was something that was beautiful. Then I saw it just turn to where it’s ugly, where people are fabricating lies and doing whatever they can, and they’re driven by the wrong thing. What purpose does it have to have this camp down there? There are donations coming, so the purpose is the very same purpose for this pipeline; it’s money. The things that we learn from this camp — the things that were good, that people are doing whatever they can to hold onto — are slipping through their hands at this moment. And I feel like no matter what I say or what I do now, because it flipped and it turned, I have to be really careful; because they will say that I’m trying to facilitate this pipeline.
The whole interview, which isn’t terribly long, is worth your time to read.
Back in October a bit of a pie-throwing contest erupted between Archambault and then-Governor Jack Dalrymple over whether or not anyone, including Archambault specifically, was really in control of the camps.
“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,” Dalrymple told talk radio host Scott Hennen (audio).
Archambault responded by denying he had said that to Dalrymple.
When I interviewed then-Lt. Governor Drew Wriglely about that later he said something pretty insightful: “Chairman Archambault doesn’t control this,” he said, referring to the camps and protests (audio). “He doesn’t acknowledge that publicly but there will come a day when he will.”
I guess that day has come.