David Archambault II releases a Statement on Army Corps Decision
By Red Power Media, Staff | Nov 25, 2016
According to an email dated today, sent to David Archambault II, Chairman of the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe, the US Army Corps of Engineers announced it will close the portion of federal land on which water protectors are camping in North Dakota after December 5, to protect the public amid violent confrontations between protesters and law enforcement.
The notice to evict everyone from the Oceti Sakowin Camp comes after over 100 people were injured and taken to hospital during clashes at Blackwater Bridge with police, who attacked water protectors with rubber bullets, tear gas, and mace canisters and more than 200 were reportedly treated for hypothermia after Morton County Sheriff’s Department deployed a water cannon in below-freezing temperatures on Sunday.
Since the Spring, water protectors have been standing in opposition of the $3.7 billion Dakota Access Pipeline by setting up camps and blocking roads to stop completion of the project.
The email says: Any person found to be on the Corps’ lands north of the Cannonball River after Dec 5, 2016, will be considered trespassing and may be subject to prosecution under federal, state, and local laws. Furthermore, any person who chooses to stay on these Corps’ lands north of the Cannonball River does so at their own risk, and assumes any and all corresponding liabilities for their unlawful presence and occupation of such lands.
All access to the present camp on the north side of the river will be closed.
Unaffected is the Camp of the Sacred Stones, which is on private land a short distance south.
Campers can move to a new area provided by the Corps, wrote John W. Henderson, commander for the Omaha district.
You can read the email uploaded by The Daily Haze on Scribd in it’s entirety here:
Dear Chairman Archambault:
Pursuant to 36 C.F.R. § 327.12, I am closing the portion of the Corps-managed federal property north of the Cannonball River to all public use and access effective December 5, 2016. This decision is necessary to protect the general public from the violent confrontations between protestors and law enforcement officials that have occurred in this area, and to prevent death, illness, or serious injury to inhabitants of encampments due to the harsh North Dakota winter conditions. The necessary emergency, medical, and fire response services, law enforcement, or sustainable facilities to protect people from these conditions on this property cannot be provided. I do not take this action lightly, but have decided that it is required due to the concern for public safety and the fact that much of this land is leased to private persons for grazing and/or haying purposes as part of the Corps’ land management practices. To be clear, this means that no member of the general public, to include Dakota Access pipeline protestors, can be on these Corps’ lands.
The Corps of Engineers has established a free speech zone on land south of the Cannonball River for anyone wishing to peaceably protest the Dakota Access pipeline project, subject to the rules of 36 C.F.R. Part 327. In these areas, jurisdiction for police, fire, and medical response is better defined making it a more sustainable area for visitors to endure the harsh North Dakota winter. For your reference, please find enclosed a map, marked as Exhibit A, which delineates this free speech zone area, as well as shows the Corps’ lands north of the Cannonball River that will be prohibited from public use. Any person found to be on the Corps’ lands north of the Cannonball River after December 5, 2016, will be considered trespassing and may be subject to prosecution under federal, state, and local laws. Furthermore, any person who chooses to stay on these Corps’ lands north of the Cannonball River does so at their own risk, and assumes any and all corresponding liabilities for their unlawful presence and occupation of such lands. There currently are many Title 36 violations occurring on the Corps lands north of the Cannonball River, including, but not limited to, unauthorized structures, fires, improper disposal of waste, and camping. Additionally, any tribal government that sponsors such illegal activity is assuming the risk for those persons who remain on these lands. See36 C.F.R. § 327.
As I have publically stated, I am asking you, as a Tribal leader, to encourage members of your Tribe, as well as any non-members who support you who are located in the encampments north of the Cannonball River on Corps’ lands to immediately and peacefully move to the free speech zone south of the Cannonball River or to a more sustainable location for the winter. I am genuinely concerned for the safety and well-being of both the members of your Tribe and the general public located at these encampments. Please do not hesitate to contact me with any questions or concerns regarding this information.
Sincerely, John W. Henderson, P.E. Colonel, Corps of Engineers District Commander
The following statement is from the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe’s Chairman, Dave Archambault II, on Nov 25, 2016.
“Today we were notified by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers that on Dec. 5th, they will close all lands north of the Cannonball River, which is where the Oceti Sakowin camp is located. The letter states that the lands will be closed to public access for safety concerns, and that they will allow for a ‘free speech zone’ south of the Cannonball River on Army Corps lands. Our Tribe is deeply disappointed in this decision by the United States, but our resolve to protect our water is stronger than ever. The best way to protect people during the winter, and reduce the risk of conflict between water protectors and militarized police, is to deny the easement for the Oahe crossing, and deny it now.”
Archambault urged the public to ask President Obama and the Corps to change the pipeline route.
“We ask that everyone who can appeal to President Obama and the Army Corps of Engineers to consider the future of our people and rescind all permits, and deny the easement to cross the Missouri River just north of our Reservation and straight through our treaty lands. When the Dakota Access Pipeline chose this route, they did not consider our strong opposition. Our concerns were clearly articulated directly to them in a tribal council meeting held on Sept. 30, 2014, where DAPL and the ND Public Service Commission came to us with this route. We have released the audio recording from that meeting.
Again, we ask that the United States stop the pipeline and move it outside our ancestral and treaty lands. It is both unfortunate and disrespectful that this announcement comes the day after this country celebrates Thanksgiving — a historic exchange of goodwill between Native Americans and the first immigrants from Europe. Although the news is saddening, it is not at all surprising given the last 500 years of the mistreatment of our people. The Standing Rock Sioux Tribe stands united with more than 300 tribal nations and the water protectors who are here peacefully protesting the Dakota access pipeline to bolster indigenous people’s rights. We continue to fight for these rights, which continue to be eroded. Although we have suffered much, we still have hope that the President will act on his commitment to close the chapter of broken promises to our people and especially our children.”
By some estimates there are currently as many as 5,000 people in the Oceti Sakowin camp, named for the Seven Council Fires of the Sioux.