Last week the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers issued an eviction notice to Standing Rock Tribal Chairman Dave Archambault II. The notice stated that anyone who stays at the Oceti Sakowin Camp, where NationofChange currently has staff on the ground, in North Dakota will be doing so at their own risk.
Now the Army Corps is clarifying their statement, stating that they do not have plans to forcibly remove anyone, but that those that do stay are at risk of being ticketed or arrested:
“We fully support the rights of all Americans to exercise free speech and peacefully assemble, and we ask that they do it in a way that does not also endanger themselves or others, or infringe on others’ rights.”
The statement, from Omaha District Commander Colonel John Henderson, went on to say:
This transition is also necessary to protect the general public from the dangerous confrontations between demonstrators and law enforcement officials which have occurred near this area. “Unfortunately, it is apparent that more dangerous groups have joined this protest and are provoking conflict in spite of the public pleas from Tribal leaders. We are working to transition those engaged in peaceful protest from this area and enable law enforcement authorities to address violent or illegal acts as appropriate to protect public safety,” said Omaha District Commander, Col. John Henderson.
The Army Corps of Engineers has never been able to legally issue a permit for the Oceti Sakowin camp north of the Cannonball River due to the pre-existing grazing lease to a local rancher. However, the Corps has established an area on land south of the Cannonball River for anyone wishing to peaceably protest the Dakota Access pipeline project. In this area, jurisdiction for police, fire, and medical response is better-defined since it is located inside of the Reservation boundary making it a more sustainable area for visitors to endure the harsh North Dakota winter.
You can read the whole statement here.
The eviction notice states a date of December 5, 2016, just one day after hundreds of veterans plan to deploy to Standing Rock to stand with the water protectors.
In response to the eviction notice a coalition of groups, including the Camp of the Sacred Stones, the International Indigenous Youth Council, Indigenous Environmental Network and Honor the Earth, released their own statement:
“We stand united in defiance of the black snake and are committed to defense of water, our Mother Earth, and our rights as Indigenous people. We call on all people of conscience, from all Nations, to join the encampments and stand with us as we put our bodies on the line.
“The Army Corps has no authority to evict us from these lands. The Oceti Sakowin encampment is located on the ancestral homeland of the Lakota, Mandan, Arikara and Northern Cheyenne—on territory never ceded to the U.S. government, and affirmed in the 1851 Treaty of Ft. Laramie as sovereign land belonging to the Great Sioux Nation.
“We call on the White House to deny the easement now, revoke the permits, remove the DAPL construction workers and order a full environmental impact statement in formal consultation with impacted tribal governments.”
Read their full statement here.