One of American Indian tribes opposed to a contentious multi-state oil pipeline in North Dakota has formally asked activists to vacate makeshift campsites located near its reservation.
Standing Rock Sioux’s tribal council announced Saturday that it passed a resolution calling for camps holding Dakota Access Pipeline opponents to be dismantled. The resolution did not mention any plans to relocate the 600 activists, most of whom are outsiders.
The tribe has been pushing protesters to vacate the area since U.S. Army Corps of Engineers rejected the $3.8 billion project in December, yet the anti-DAPL activists have refused Standing Rock’s pleas.
“The pipeline fight has moved beyond the camps and our strategy must evolve with the process,” tribe Chairman David Archambault II said in a statement. He was referring to the Army Corps of Engineers’ decision last week to move forward on an environmental impact review.
Standing Rock’s resolution comes after North Dakota Gov. Doug Burgum, a Republican, said Jan. 4 that if the sites are not cleared before March, rainfall and snow melt could “endanger” their lives. Archambault reiterated Burgum’s warning.
“Because we worked together, the federal government will prepare an Environmental Impact Statement,” the tribe said. “Moving forward, our ultimate objective is best served by our elected officials, navigating strategically through the administrative and legal processes.”
Anti-DAPL activists believe the line’s construction would trample on tribal lands and potentially poison waterways, including rivers such as the Missouri River and Lake Oahe.
“Our network respects the decision of the Cannon Ball district and the tribal council of the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe,” Tom Goldtooth, the executive director of the Indigenous Environmental Network, told reporters.
The tribe is also worried that recent violent clashes between police and the protesters could delay the reopening of a highway linking a newly built casino on the reservation to Bismark, the state’s capital.
“Our main venture that we have on Standing Rock is the Prairie Knights Casino, and Highway 1806 is the main access road,” said Phyllis Young, who currently serves as a consultant to the tribe on the Dakota Access Pipeline.
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