Standing Rock leader tells protest camp it's time to go home
'Respect the host tribe' and exit area, says tribal chair Dave Archambault
An Indigenous leader in North Dakota has told people who have been staying in a massive camp set up months ago to oppose a contentious pipeline that it's time to pack up and go home.
Standing Rock Sioux Tribe chair Dave Archambault made the request on Tuesday, just days after the U.S. federal government ruled against construction of the Dakota Access pipeline, which would cross the Missouri River just north of the reservation.
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The camp — called Oceti Sakowin — has become the base to a coalition of Indigenous activists, American veterans and even Hollywood celebrities who are vehemently opposed to the $3.8 billion pipeline.
The 1,885-kilometre pipeline — owned by Texas-based Energy Transfer Partners LP — is mostly complete, except for a segment planned to run under Lake Oahe just outside the reservation near Cannon Ball, N.D. The U.S. Department of the Army denied the company an easement needed to drill that final leg.
"I am asking each and every one of you to come up with a strategy to close and exit the camp," Archambault said. "We need all to respect the host tribe's wishes."
Fear Trump could reverse decision
Although many in the camp were celebrating, there was still fear that U.S. president-elect Donald Trump would simply overturn that decision and allow the pipeline to proceed.
Archambault dismissed those concerns.
"A new administration will not easily be able to reverse Sunday's historic decision," he said.
"There will be more battles ahead and we will continue to strategize and win. The camp has brought us this far, now it is time we pivot to the next phase of this struggle. That will be lead on different fronts like in court, with the new administration, with Congress and with the [pipeline's] investors."
It's unclear whether people in the camp will heed the tribe's request to leave.
Many have been hunkered down in the camp or have retreated to a nearby tribe-owned casino while a blizzard rips through the area.