FORT YATES — The Standing Rock Sioux Tribal Council unanimously voted to support the district of Cannon Ball in asking all Dakota Access Pipeline protesters to leave the area and canceling plans for a nearby winter camp.
"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. "The building of an alternative site for the camp(s) within the Cannon Ball District is not needed or wanted. 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 resolution, approved by the full council Friday, applies to all of the protest camps in the area: Oceti Sakowin, Rosebud and Sacred Stone.
The majority of those from the camps who spoke said they respected the council’s decision and shook hands with them.
“There’s a lot of people who get everything mixed up. We need to get back to where we’re at what we started with,” said JoBeth Brownotter, who is from the Rock Creek District and has lived in camp for the last six months. “I am here to support you guys because you guys have our best interest at heart.”
Lewis Grassrope told the tribal council he felt it was an honor to stand with the tribe and he understands now it is time for him to go back to his own tribe.
“We need to take the fire that was lit here and burns within us and go back to our own respectful reservations,” he said.
"I fully back you guys in this," Isaac Weston said, echoing the others. "I truly believe we have to have faith in the EIS (Envioronmental Impact Statement to be conducted on the Dakota Access Pipeline) ... Everything we did here is going to keep going."
Cody Two Bears, the Cannon Ball district representative to the tribal council, said the district is requesting federal law enforcement aid in removing protesters from the district and setting up posts blocking those who do not live or work in the district from entering. The district requests these actions be taken in the next 30 days.
“If there’s concern from our districts, from our members, we have to listen to them and that’s what we’re going to do,” Tribal Chairman Dave Archambault II said.
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The resolution stemmed from residents’ frustrations over the continued closure of Backwater Bridge on N.D. Highway 1806, which is the primary route to work and hospital services. Repairs and cleaning are needed at the Cannon Ball gym, due to serving as an emergency shelter for protesters. Also, there’s concern over alcohol and drug use in the area believed to be tied to the camps.
“I understand there’s some good people out there and sometimes there’s a little bit of ones that are kinda out of control,” said Two Bears. “I think it’s come to that point now there are a few campers out there that have not been respectful to community, to the wishes of elders and wishes of Standing Rock Sioux Tribe … It’s doing more harm than good.”
Residents believe protest actions that continue to take place on the bridge are jeopardizing the chances of having it reopened.
Ed Blackcloud was the lone dissenter to stand up at the meeting to criticize the council's actions
“Very few people (at the camp) are the ones who agitate,” he said. “I do not think all these people should be asked to go home when they fought for you guys, they fought for me, fought for my children, fought for your guys’ children … I feel sending these people home is wrong.”
“Why are you guys attacking the bridge? What’s the bridge got to do with DAPL?,” Frank White Bull, the district representative from Kenel, asked in response. “Our people need that bridge … Who are you guys hurting? You’re hurting us because of your few bad eggs. So now it comes to us.”
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 organization that supports the camps and is helping to coordinate the move.
Sacred Stone camp founder LaDonna Allard does not plan to close down her camp. She was not present at the council meeting.
The Standing Rock Sioux Tribe has told all protesters camping in flood zones that they need to pack up and move by Jan. 30, when they plan to bring in equipment to pack up waste and materials.