Reactions to ruling on Dakota Access Pipeline project
Northwest tribes celebrate salmon and promote restoration efforts
Energy Transfer sent a statement to NNN after the broadcast.
By National Native News staff
Law enforcement officers arrested at least 10 people Wednesday (2/22) during a short confrontation with those left in the former Oceti Sakowin camp on federal land in North Dakota. Officers moved in again Thursday morning to clear remaining inhabitants and start the process to clean structures and debris off the land.
Most of the remaining protesters—about 150 people—marched out of the camp accompanied by singing, drumming and prayers before the 2 p.m. deadline. Among those leaving was Dan Nanamkin (Nez Perse Umatilla and Lakes Okanogan). He had been at the camp since September. He said it was a heartbreaking decision.
“We decided among ourselves, if we were to be peacefully removed, we were going to do so with dignity, we are going to leave with dignity and in a respectful, prayerful way,” Nanamkin said. “So we could have our heads help up high in regards that we did the best that we could and there’s no shame in leaving. So we took care of ourselves in that way.” He said he has set up for now at the nearby Eagle Nest camp and is deciding whether to stay on.
Those leaving the camp set fire to as many as 20 structures, reportedly for ceremonial reasons. The Morton County Sheriff’s office reports two people were treated at the hospital for burns although it’s still unclear how those happened. A large contingent of officers in riot gear moved in about two hours after the 2 p.m. Wednesday deadline set by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers and North Dakota officials passed. The officers repeatedly rushed a group of protesters, grabbed selected people, then retreated.
North Dakota Governor Doug Burgum said those remaining had another chance to leave Thursday without risk of arrest. State officials said clean-up would continue and anyone interfering would be arrested.
North Dakota officials offered meals, short-term lodging, medical exams and even bus tickets for protesters who left by Wednesday afternoon. Officials say only four people made use of the services.
Construction on the pipeline has already resumed. Pipeline backers say oil could be flowing as early as March 6th.
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By NNN staff
Dozens of people participated in ceremonies and left on foot from the Oceti Sakowin camp under threat of deadlines by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers and the state of North Dakota. Others stayed to risk arrest by authorities clearing the land to continue construction of the Dakota Access Pipeline under Lake Oahe.
The state provided travel assistance and other services for those voluntarily leaving the main camp for people opposing the pipeline. Buses came to take people to an assistance center in Bismarck. The state is providing health services, bus fare, food vouchers and a one-night hotel stay. Grassroots groups are also providing assistance.
Muddy conditions hindered debris removal. Rain and snow hit the area the morning of the evacuation. Campers had asked the Army Corps for more time to continue clean up efforts, but the agency denied the extension. Law enforcement officials said anyone still at the camp after 2 p.m. local time would be arrested and remaining property, structures and vehicles would be impounded.
The Army Corps set Feb. 22 as the deadline for people to vacate the camp. The state also called for people to leave through an evacuation order issued the week before.
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The Native American Journalists Association says the arrest this week of a working journalist at the North Dakota pipeline protests is unlawful and a violation of free press principles. Morton County Sheriff’s Office deputies arrested reporter Jenni Monet along with 75 others. They were taken into custody while protestors were assembling a new camp on what officials say is private land. Monet—who has covered the protests on location for numerous news organizations including National Native News—was on assignment for Indian Country Media Network.
NAJA President Bryan Pollard says Monet’s arrest is in keeping with a pattern by Morton County law enforcement to try and prevent the press from documenting their actions.
“I think it’s more important than ever that journalists go there and document what’s happening,” Pollard said. “But I think it should be said that any journalist who goes there to cover what’s happening at Standing Rock needs to go there understanding that they are entering something that is resembling a war zone.”
Pollard says Monet is a clearly-credentialed journalist who has covered the events in North Dakota for months. He says officials need better awareness in order to distinguish reporters from protesters.
“Officials in charge either have not trained their forces properly, or simply don’t care that that’s an illegal action and a violation of the First Amendment,” Pollard said.
Monet texted her editors before she was arrested, saying she was unable to get away from the sweep of officers taking protesters into custody. Indian Country Media Network demanded Monet’s release and the dismissal of all pending charges.