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Lakota Country Times: #NoDAPL resisters dispute state's declaration of emergency






The North Dakota Highway Patrol continues to restrict travel to and from the Camp of the Sacred Stones near Cannon Ball, North Dakota, due to alleged safety "hazards." "Many hazards near the protest site have been present such as: protestors blocking the roadway, walking on the highway, and numerous vehicles parked on the shoulder of the highway," the Morton County Sheriff's Department wrote on Facebook on August 26, 2016. Photo by Morton County Sheriff's Department

Prayers Generate State of Emergency for North Dakota Governor
By Karin Eagle
Lakota Country Times Correspondent
lakotacountrytimes.com

CANNONBALL, ND—State of Emergency! This is the response from the Governor’s office in North Dakota to the growing and active protest being staged near the Standing Rock Sioux Reservation. The protest site has been standing for months in direct opposition to the Dakota Access Pipe Line which crosses reservation land and water sources. Governor Jack Dalrymple made the declaration on August 19.

In a statement attached to the declaration Dalrymple said “The State of North Dakota remains committed to protecting citizens’ rights to lawfully assemble and protest, but the unfortunate fact remains that unlawful acts associated with the protest near Cannon Ball have led to serious public safety concerns and property damage.

The response from Sacred Stone Camp, named in reference to the stone formations that resemble large cannonballs and are considered sacred to the tribe, has been one of outrage, confusion and concern. Some of the people from the camp are mildly amused by what they consider an overreaction from Gov. Dalrymple.

"I was shocked that state funding would be created to protect companies as opposed to people,” stated Waniya Locke, is one of the camp supporters and longtime water rights activist. "The real threat to 10 million people drinking water is DAPL. We watched since 2012 as each permit was granted by North Dakota, South Dakota, Iowa and Illinois; all choosing a company over people."

“This has been a long time battle," Locke said. "We are left but to stand in the way because elected officials choose a company over people."

Alayna Eagle Shield visited the camp and participated in what has all along been described as a peaceful and prayerful protest.

“This whole experience has been life changing,” describes Eagle Shield. ”You can't come to this gathering and not feel the love, the prayer, the spirit of our ancestors, the amazing feelings of all the tribes coming together.”

“It's something that goes deep into your cells and you can't help but be moved. I've cried so many sad and happy tears in the last few weeks that I can't count, but I know the seventh generation is here!” Eagle Shield said.


The North Dakota Highway Patrol continues to restrict travel to and from the Camp of the Sacred Stones near Cannon Ball, North Dakota, due to alleged safety "hazards." "Many hazards near the protest site have been present such as: protestors blocking the roadway, walking on the highway, and numerous vehicles parked on the shoulder of the highway," the Morton County Sheriff's Department wrote on Facebook on August 26, 2016. Photo by Morton County Sheriff's Department

Daniel Eames is a non-Native supporter of the Sacred Stone Camp and the opposition to the DAPL from Louisiana. His perspective of the camp and the opposition to the pipeline are more in line with the organizers and longtime campers who have welcomed the nearly two thousand fluctuating numbers of new supporters.

“A lot of media is calling this a protest, and referring to people in general as activists and protestors,” explains Eames, “But truly this is a gathering of Native people of all walks of life and all backgrounds Tribes and Nations. They are counselors, Aunts, Uncles, teachers, parents, workers, and students. They are families along with all aspects of community from around the region. It would do more justice to this movement for all to recognize that.”

Olowaan Plain, a camp supporter and one the more vocal opponents to the pipeline explained her reaction to the ND Highway Patrol decision to block public access along a state highway that provided direct access to the camp site.

“The blockade is up on Hwy 180,” posted Plain on social media. “No one is allowed in now. They are violating our First Amendment right to assemble peacefully and protect our Mother Earth. They are stopping anyone wanting to join us from entering. You must take Hwy 6 to get to us which is more than 20 miles out if the way”

Another camp visitor and participant was Darren Thompson, Ojibwe, a renowned flute player who was invited to perform and speak at the camp. According to Thompson his interaction with the Highway Patrol officers was positive and in his estimation “The police officers on site were helpful, respectful and knew we weren't there to cause any harm.”

When asked if, during his multiple visits to the camp, he had seen anything that might be construed as a threat to public safety enough to warrant the State of Emergency, Thompson stated, simply, “No, not at all.”

Thompson's reaction to the declaration was equally simple, “It demonstrates the inability to consult and work with the tribe,” which has been the issue most called to attention concerning the permit process used by DAPL owners.

Despite the emergency declaration being authorized as “restricted”, meaning resources will be made available to the state to handle any potential public safety risks due to the protest, there is still a feeling of concern what the declaration might have opened at door to. As of press time the North Dakota National Guard has not been activated. There had been rumors and speculation about the possibility of the Guard being calling on site since the numbers began to swell in early August.


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The executive order issued has been explained by the Governor’s office as to “help the state and local agencies manage costs associated with providing a heightened law enforcement presence and activates the State Emergency Operations Plan to coordinate the efficient flow of resources.” This is according to the ND Gov website as of press time.

“This emergency declaration simply allows us to bring greater resources to bear if needed to help local officials address any further public safety concerns,” explains Dalrymple.

According to many at the Sacred Stone Camp the reality of the camp’s existence as a prayer protest, peaceful in nature and intent, does not coincide with the State of Emergency that the state of North Dakota has enacted. There have been no officially identified incidences of violence or threats of violence.

“This is what our ancestors envisioned,” says Eagle Shield,” all of the tribes uniting in prayer for the people. I'm so fortunate to have met so many amazing people, to have been able to help in anyway, to have my babies and husband beside me in prayer, and to witness so much love and unity.”

(Karin Eagle can be reached at 73wambli@gmail.com)

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