The chairman of the tribe protesting the Dakota Access Pipeline pleaded with the protesters to disband and go home in a letter released Tuesday, reminding them they got “everything” they asked for and warning them the severe weather conditions at the camp are dangerous.
“We deeply appreciate all the people who supported us with their presence, but when this storm passes, it is time to dismantle the camp and return to our homes,” wrote Standing Rock Sioux tribal chairman, Dave Archambault II, in the letter. “If the camp stays where it is currently located, people are risking their lives.”
A blizzard is raging at the site in North Dakota where protesters are still gathered, even after the Army Corps of Engineers agreed to all of their demands regarding the oil pipeline. The tribe and its supporters argue the $3.8 billion pipeline could poison waterways on tribal lands and destroy ancient tribal artifacts, although it runs mostly on privately-owned land and does not run on the tribe’s reservation.
After months of sometimes violent protests, the Army Corps agreed to deny the easement needed to build the pipeline, suggest a reroute of the pipeline and initiate an Environmental Impact Study.
“Our great leaders of the past would never put the people at risk of harm, especially women and children. I don’t want anyone to be living in an unsafe environment,” Archambault II added. “We need to stay in prayer, believe in our prayer, and begin our journey home in prayer. I believe in my prayers and in the Creator. Take the lessons we learned here and apply them at home – unity, peace, prayer.”
Some protesters have vowed to stay in the camp through the winter, out of concern President-elect Donald Trump’s administration will somehow undo the decision, or that it will be reversed by some other means. Two feet of snow has fallen in the area in recent weeks, and temperatures have dropped into the single digits.
Over and over in the letter, the tribal chairman urges the camp to disband. “I am asking each and every one of you to come up with a strategy to close and exit the camp,” he wrote. “I respectfully ask that you leave the land as it was when you arrived, and return home before the winter grows more severe.”
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