I wrote earlier today about Standing Rock Sioux Tribal Chairman David Archambault telling #NoDAPL protesters that it’s time to go home, but this evening a video has been released with a full message from the chairman and it’s pretty interesting.
First, it’s interesting that Archambault feels he needs to warn the protesters against further acts of violence and vandalism. For the last few months Archambault has been insisting to anyone who will listen that #NoDAPL is a peaceful and prayerful protest movement, yet here he is warning this movement against damaging more construction equipment or harming more people.
Those warnings belie his claims of peacefulness.
Second, it’s clear that Archambault really wants the #NoDAPL protesters gone. He’s careful to thank them for helping the tribe win their supposed victory over the construction of the pipeline what with the Corps declining to issue an easement to cross Lake Oahe (we’ll see how long that lasts), but it’s obvious that he doesn’t want them around any more.
For the last several weeks Archambault has been voicing some misgivings about the presence of the protesters. In an interview at the end of November he expressed some serious concerns about how the land has been treated by the protesters. “We’re no different than the oil company, if we’re fighting for water,” he said. “What’s going to happen when people leave? Who has to clean it up? Who has to refurbish it? It’s going to be us, the people who live here.”
Between protesters trashing the land, and potentially creating a PR headaches with more violent rioting, I think Archambault wants to quit while he’s ahead.
I do not doubt for a moment the man’s convictions when it comes to opposing the pipeline, as misguided as I believe them to be, but I think he knows these protests have given his tribe a real black eye in terms of its relationship to its neighbors and the state of North Dakota.
Unfortunately, it’s not at all clear that the protesters are going to be willing to listen to Archambault’s pleas for them to leave:
“As water protectors, we have a responsibility to be stewards of the water,” said John Bigelow, head of the camp’s media committee and a member of the Standing Rock Sioux. “We declare here today, we are not going anywhere.” […]
Earlier today, Standing Rock Sioux Chairman David Archambault told Reuters that protesters should leave the camps. Archambault anticipated that no additional construction work would go forward over the winter season and said he would focus efforts on communications with Trump.
In response to Archambault’s statement regarding non-Sioux protesters, Bigelow said the chairman represents the tribe and has been working with the Oceti Sakoi camp for a “very long time.”
However, Bigelow said the interests of the camp and the tribe “may not always align.”
“Our interests here go as far as keeping people in camp safe, and it takes of all of our attention to do that,” he said. “We allow the tribal council to work on their things on their side, but we have a little narrower focus here. We welcome all who want to come and stand beside us—we just want them to bring very warm shoes.”
This makes me wonder if something Lt. Governor Drew Wrigley told me back in early November won’t prove prophetic.
“Chairman Archambault doesn’t control this,” Wrigley said, referring to the protests (audio at the link). “He doesn’t acknowledge that publicly but there will come a day when he will.”