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Robert Fool Bear

Robert Fool Bear Sr., former chairman of Cannon Ball District, speaks at a district meeting in January.

CANNON BALL — The district of Cannon Ball is asking all Dakota Access Pipeline protesters to leave the area and not set up a winter camp nearby. 

"All the individuals at all the camps in and around Cannon Ball need to leave the district," residents wrote in a 10-point resolution passed during an executive session of a district meeting Wednesday night.

In particular, the district members are asking that no new camp be built in their area. This includes a winter camp just outside the town where protesters are supposed to move to avoid a flood. If such a camp is built or protesters are allowed to stay, the district members want federal law enforcement posted at town entryways to keep them out. 

"The building of an alternative site for the camp(s) within the Cannon Ball District is not needed or wanted," according to a draft resolution. "If there is to be any kind of a 'site' for the commemoration of this historic event that took place with all the tribes, the people of Standing Rock need to vote on where, what and cost before any 'shanty town is built.'"

The district is asking the Standing Rock Sioux Tribal Council to assist them in implementing the resolution, and a meeting was scheduled about it for Friday morning, according to Cannon Ball District Chairman Robert Fool Bear Sr. 

"The district wants the tribe to recognize that now they want to have a say,” Fool Bear said. "We want what’s ours, our rights as a district."

A draft resolution details a number of concerns, some of which were shared during the open part of the Wednesday meeting. 

Residents say they are tired of the Backwater Bridge remaining closed due to ongoing protests there, because it is their primary route to work and hospital services. The Cannon Ball gym, used for sports, meetings and funerals, is in need of cleaning and repairs due to serving as an emergency shelter for protesters, some of whom continue to stay there. Also, residents are concerned about alcohol and drug use in the area, which they think is tied to the camps. 

Patty Kelly, an elder who spoke at the meeting, said she often sees people driving on Army Corps of Engineers land and on her property near the Missouri River. 

"Why doesn't the rules apply to them as they are applied to us?" Kelly asked. "It's not Sacred Stone camp no more. I just call it Stone camp."

The residents also contend that many of the strongest advocates have gone home and that part of the fight has been won in the courts.

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"We are starting to win the battle legally,” Cannon Ball Tribal Councilman Cody Two Bears said at the meeting. "What the tribe has to do now is to clean that area up."

Prior to the vote, Two Bears told residents the new camp would be like an "extraction zone" to transition people out of the area. He reminded the residents they could vote "no" on it, which they did.

Not everyone is on board with the resolution: About five of the 35 members present did not vote for it, according to local resident Jan Two Shields, 70, who was also at the meeting.

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"Certain factions, all they want to do is cause trouble," Two Shields said in an interview Thursday. "As far as the ones that are here for a good cause and want to stay until the end, I'm for that."

The resolution applies to all of the protest camps in the area: Oceti Sakowin, Rosebud and Sacred Stone.

Since the resolution, the move to a new winter camp from the Oceti Sakowin camp has been put on hold, according to Tom Goldtooth, director of the Indigenous Environmental Network, a group that supports the camps and is helping to coordinate the move.

"Our concern is to recognize the concerns of the local community and the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe," Goldtooth said Thursday night. "How do we balance that with the needs of the people who have traveled there from afar?"

Sacred Stone camp founder LaDonna Allard does not plan to close down her camp. She said Thursday that she plans to turn it into an "eco-camp to teach people to live on the Earth again" by summer. She contends that her camp will not flood and that most of the problems experienced by residents come from the other camps.

The Standing Rock Sioux Tribe has told all protesters camping in flood zones that they need to pack up and move to the winter camp by Jan. 30, when they plan to bring in equipment to pack up waste and materials in preparation for early flooding expected in the region.

Two phone calls and a voice message to Standing Rock Tribal Chairman Dave Archambault II were not returned Thursday night.

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Reach Caroline Grueskin at 701-250-8225 or at caroline.grueskin@bismarcktribune.com

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