As tensions heat back up over the future of the Dakota Access Pipeline, the Standing Rock Sioux chairman asks demonstrators to leave and stay away.
Tribal Chairman Dave Archambault II has reiterated a plea to stand down at Standing Rock in the wake of 76 arrests of demonstrators Wednesday.
The demonstrators had set up a new camp on private land, which police shut down the same day. Video filmed and distributed by the Morton County Sheriff’s Department shows the arrests, which featured law-enforcement officers giving out hand warmers and refraining from use of pepper spray, rubber bullets, tear gas, freezing sprays of water and other tactics used in the past.
North Dakota Gov. Doug Burgum also traveled to the reservation town of Cannon Ball on Wednesday night to meet with residents and tribal members to hear their concerns.
Archambault said the visit was the new governor’s second and marked a “welcome shift” from the previous administration.
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In a statement on Facebook after the arrests, Archambault said the demonstrators’ actions “do not represent the tribe nor the original intent of the water protectors … instead of empowering us, it undermines us.”
“Those who planned to occupy the new camp are putting all of our work at risk. They also put peoples’ lives at risk. We have seen what brutality law enforcement can inflict with little provocation.”
Archambault urged those who remain at the main camp on Corps of Engineers land near the river to work together to clean and restore the land before floodwaters come. Work has been under way for days to pick up trash, old tents and more left behind from thousands of people who camped by the river during demonstrations that heated up beginning last August, and continued through winter.
Several hundred people still remain in the main camp.
The tribe is urging opponents to focus resistance to the oil pipeline project on the courts, where the tribe has vowed to sue to block any effort by the developer, Energy Transfer Partners, of Dallas, to continue construction while an environmental review of the project is under way.
The tribe is also continuing its work in Washington, D.C., where a Native Nations March on Washington, Rise with Standing Rock, is planned for March 10. But the tribe wants no more standoffs with police.
“These continuing actions in the face of the tribes’ plea to stand down only harm the cause that everyone came here to support,” Archambault wrote.
Meanwhile, the Seattle City Council will hear a bill Monday beginning at 2 p.m. to divest city funds from Wells Fargo Bank, a major lender to the pipeline project. The bill was passed by a council committee on a unanimous vote Wednesday.