BREAKING: Feds Shoot Down Furious North Dakota Cops and DAPL Corp, Telling Them There Are No Grounds To Evict Growing Pipeline Protest Camp
The growing encampment that is a living, breathing protest against the four-state Dakota Access pipeline has most everything it needs to be self-sustaining: food, firewood, fresh water and shelter. Everything except, according to Republican Rep Kevin Cramer, permission to be on the federal land in North Dakota.
According to James MacPherson of Time, Federal officials say they will not evict the Oceti Sakowin, or Seven Council Fires camp, due to free speech reasons, even though it’s on U.S. Army Corps of Engineers land near the confluence of the Missouri and Cannonball rivers that many Native Americans believe is still rightfully owned by the Standing Rock Sioux under a nearly 150-year-old treaty.
“We’re not leaving until we defeat this big black snake,” camp spokesman Cody Hall said of the pipeline.
Republican U.S. Rep. Kevin Cramer, North Dakota’s only House member, has sided with the pipeline company against the protectors and believes the camp is illegal.
“If that camp was full of people advocating for fossil fuels, they would have been removed by now,” Cramer said. “There is some discretionary enforcement going on.”
Oceti Sakowin Camp.Cannon Ball, ND
The camp is the overflow from smaller private and permitted protest sites nearby and REALLY began growing in August. The gathering has been called the largest gathering of Native American nations in history, all there to protect the land and water from Dallas-based Energy Transfer Partners’ $3.8 billion Dakota Access pipeline, which officials say threatens sacred sites, burial grounds, and a river that’s a source of water for millions. The company has already destroyed some sacred areas while using hired security forces with pepper spray and attack dogs to try to hold back the protectors.
MacPherson also notes that Corps spokeswoman Eileen Williamson said the agency is encouraging people to relocate to areas where there is a permit, such as a nearby smaller camp where demonstrators have been allowed to legally protest on federal lands managed by the agency.
Williamson mentions the pesky “free speech” that Americans are allowed:“We don’t have the physical ability to go out and evict people — it gives the appearance of not protecting free speech,” she said. “Our hands are really tied.”
Cramer speculates, without evidence, that the “bigger problem” of the camp is “the illegal activity that may be orchestrated from there.” About 95 people have been arrested in the pipeline protests, some as far as 70 miles away from the camp, since early August, but none at the camp itself. Protectors deny state officials’ false charge, and Hall says the camp promotes peaceful protest.
“People don’t leave from the camp with malicious intent to do harm,” Hall said. “There are always going to be a few bad eggs in any group you can’t the message to.”
Complicating the issue is a grazing lease on that land. The renter, David Meyer, is responsible for the condition of the land. He could enforce his lease and have people removed, Williamson said, but hasn’t requested any intervention. Meyer recently sold part of his historic Cannonball Ranch to Energy Transfer Partners for an undisclosed price; he hasn’t returned telephone calls from The Associated Press seeking comment.The Standing Rock Sioux has challenged the Army Corps of Engineers’ decision to grant permits for the pipeline that is intended to carry North Dakota oil to Illinois. Due to a federal court decision, construction has stopped within 20 miles on either side of Lake Oahe, a Missouri River reservoir that is near the encampment. The Departments of Justice, Army and Interior also has said it will “reconsider any of its previous decisions” on land that borders or is under the lake.
Hall, a member of South Dakota’s Cheyenne River Sioux Tribe, said the Sioux “never ceded” the land on which they’re camping. He said they are preparing to stay through the winter by stockpiling firewood, heating stoves and warmer clothes. But there’ll be no permanent structures built, Hall said.
“We will leave this camp as we found it,” he said.
So who’s land is it? According to the treaty, it is the land of the Natives, but according to some, it is the land of the Army Corps of Engineers. Are the treaties still respected or are they forgotten in favor of money? Either way, the Corps said they will respect “free speech” for now and allow the camp to continue!