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article imageU.S. Federal officials to close down Standing Rock protest camp

By Ken Hanly     Nov 26, 2016 in Politics
Bismarck - The Army Corps of Engineers has sent a letter to the chairman of the Standing Rock Sioux Reservation in the state of North Dakota, Dave Archambault II, indicating federal officials plan to close access to a campsite where protesters have been for months.
The officials claimed they were acting on public safety concerns about the site, where demonstrators have gathered to protest the construction of the Dakota Access crude oil pipeline. After December 5, anyone found on the property faces being charged with trespassing. In the letter, Colonel John Henderson said: This decision is necessary to protect the general public from the violent confrontations between protesters and law enforcement officials that have occurred in this area, and to prevent death, illness, or serious injury to inhabitants of encampments due to the harsh North Dakota winter conditions.”
The authorities intend to close the area north of the Cannonball River, this includes the Oceti Sakowin camp which is about 40 miles south of Bismarck, the capital of North Dakota and where opponents of the pipeline have gathered for months now. The natives fear the pipeline could pollute the Missouri River as well as harming sacred cultural lands and tribal burial grounds.
In response to the letter Archambault said in a statement: It is both unfortunate and disrespectful that this announcement comes the day after this country celebrates Thanksgiving — a historic exchange between Native Americans and the first immigrants from Europe. Although the news is saddening, it is not all surprising given the last 500 years of mistreatment of our people.”
Archambault said the best way to protect demonstrators and reduce conflicts with police is simply to deny the easement for the Oahe crossing. A number of U.S. government agencies have objected to the pipeline as well as many Native American groups as mentioned in a recent Digital Journal article.
Obama had delayed the project in December by temporarily blocking it from crossing under the Missouri River and said that the Army Corps of Engineers was considering an alternative route. Yet Kelcy Warren, CEO of Energy Transfer Partner told the press that it would not consider an alternate route. In spite of legal disputes and demonstrations, the pipeline is almost complete. The pipeline still lacks a final permit to drill under the MIssouri river. The army has twice delayed issuing the permit or easement. On November 15, Energy Transfer Partners, filed papers in court asking a judge to force the army to allow drilling under the river to proceed.
According to the Standing Rock Medic and Healer Council, 26 people had to be hospitalized and hundreds more were injured on Sunday in demonstrations. On Friday at least 33 were arrested when they entered a shopping mall in Bismarck and formed a circle to pray. In late October, another protest camp was cleared. Armored vehicles and pepper spray were used with 141 people arrested.
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