FARGO, N.D. (AP) — North Dakota Gov. Jack Dalrymple’s decision to issue an emergency declaration over an ongoing pipeline protest is unfortunate, the head of the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe said in a statement released Saturday.
Dalrymple said the order issued Friday is meant to free up more state resources to manage public safety risks from the dispute about the $3.8 billion Dakota Access Pipeline. Construction of the pipeline north of Cannon Ball has been temporarily shut down until a federal court hearing Wednesday.
Tribal Chairman David Archambault II said the declaration used “the language of confrontation rather than cooperation” and is hurting the tribe’s economy. He said one result has been roadblocks that prevent Standing Rock residents from getting to and from work.
Archambault said he agrees with Dalrymple about the need for public safety, but doesn’t believe it should force the tribe to cancel concerts and close parks.
“I wish he had consulted with the tribe before making (Friday’s) declaration, because the tribe has its hand extended in the spirit of partnership and cooperation,” Archambault said. “We look upon this situation as an opportunity to work together.”
Dalrymple declined to comment Saturday on Archambault’s statement.
Morton County Sheriff Kyle Kirchmeier said in a statement he was pleased with the governor’s action because it relieves the “financial burden” to police the protest. He said officers will continue to monitor activity in the pipeline construction area.
The 1,172-mile project would carry nearly a half-million barrels of crude oil daily from North Dakota’s oil fields through South Dakota and Iowa to an existing pipeline in Patoka, Illinois. The tribe argues the pipeline that would be placed less than a mile upstream of the reservation could impact drinking water for the more than 8,000 tribal members in North Dakota and South Dakota and the millions who rely on it further downstream.
American Indians have been staging a nonviolent protest in the construction area for months. Since Aug. 11, Kirchmeier said, 26 people have been arrested for disorderly conduct and three people have been charged with criminal trespass. Archambault was arrested for disorderly conduct on Aug. 12.
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