In a video statement (below), the chairman of the Standing Rock Sioux tribe encouraged thousands of protesters to leave their encampments in North Dakota, now that the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers has refused to allow the Dakota Access Pipeline on sacred Native American grounds.
Declaring victory, chairman Dave Archambault II said, “There’s no need for the water protectors or for anyone to be putting ourselves in unsafe environments,” reports The Guardian.
On Dec. 4, federal officials made the announcement that they would not approve permits for construction of the pipeline near sacred burial sites.
“The Department of the Army will not approve an easement that would allow the proposed Dakota Access Pipeline to cross under Lake Oahe in North Dakota,” the statement declared. "The best way to complete that work responsibly and expeditiously is to explore alternate routes for the pipeline crossing."
The Army summarized the details as follows:
The Dakota Access Pipeline is an approximately 1,172 mile pipeline that would connect the Bakken and Three Forks oil production areas in North Dakota to an existing crude oil terminal near Pakota, Illinois. The pipeline is 30 inches in diameter and is projected to transport approximately 470,000 barrels of oil per day, with a capacity as high as 570,000 barrels. The current proposed pipeline route would cross Lake Oahe, an Army Corps of Engineers project on the Missouri River.
Archambault’s plea on Dec. 5 was rejected by many protesters who remain despite blizzard conditions.
Ladonna Bravebull Allard, a member of the Standing Rock Sioux tribe, said, “The chairman does not tell us what to do. The chairman is not in charge of the camp ... We stand. We don’t move. We don’t go nowhere.”
Many suspected it was a trick. Xhopakelxhit, who is Nuu Chah Nulth, Coast Salish and Cree, thinks the chairman is naive. “When has the government ever treated Natives fairly?” she asked.
She also opposes the pipeline in principle, rejecting the idea that merely rerouting it is a victory. “If it’s not good for your people, Dave, then it shouldn’t be good for anyone,” she said.
Others feared that the incoming Trump administration would reverse the decision, or that Dakota Access would sue.