The Standing Rock Sioux tribal leadership isn’t giving up their fight against the Dakota Access Pipeline, not even after President Donald Trump has issued an order to reverse delays to construction instituted by the Obama administration.
But they do have a message to people from around the country who might be inclined to travel back to North Dakota to re-ignite the sort of violent protests against the pipeline last year.
That message is stay home.
“We’re asking that the camp be cleared and we’re asking that people don’t come,” tribal chairman David Archambault said yesterday. “There are other ways that you can battle this. I think America has to stand up and we all have to go to D.C.”
While Standing Rock and the State of North Dakota are miles apart on whether or not the pipeline should be built, the last thing anyone on either side of the debate wants is more political extremists in the area igniting more conflict with law enforcement and citizens in the region.
Especially when, with a spring melt just weeks away, the camps with their mountains of detritus and dozens of abandoned cars need to be cleaned up before annual flooding washes everything into the Missouri River:
Speaking to reporters at the state Capitol Wednesday, North Dakota Gov. Doug Burgum said the state is focused on spring flooding, which he called a “life safety situation.”
“It doesn’t matter what happens in Washington, D.C., it doesn’t matter (what happens with the easement). That doesn’t change Mother Nature’s timetable,” Burgum said. “If we don’t evacuate and get all the debris, the cars, the buildings and everything that are illegally on federal property … then we’re creating a water disaster that we were trying to prevent, which would be a sad irony.”
This is a big problem. All the more so because the relatively small group of extremists still occupying the protest camps are deploying some dark messaging.
Former Democratic U.S. House candidate Chase Iron Eyes, a member of the Standing Rock tribe, is saying on Facebook the matter will come down to “our land or our lives.”
“Prepare for battle,” he added.
You can see a screenshot below which was forwarded to me by a friend who is active in Democratic party politics in the state.
“I wish he would realize how much his words can have impact,” my friend told me last night. “Literally implying lives can be lost is scary.”
“He was calm during the campaign. He never even said he was no dapl during the campaign,” she continued. “He literally played a part then or is now.”