Chairman Dave Archambault II of the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe speaks at the United Tribes Technical College's 20th annual Tribal Leaders Summit in Bismarck, North Dakota, on September 6, 2016. Photo courtesy United Tribes News
Environment | Law | National

Judge dissolves restraining order against leaders of Standing Rock Sioux Tribe





A federal judge on Friday dissolved a temporary restraining order against several leaders of the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe but had harsh words for some who are resisting the Dakota Access Pipeline.

Chairman Dave Archambault II and seven other leaders of the North Dakota tribe were arrested on August 12 for allegedly interfering with construction of the controversial project. The Dakota Access partnership then secured a restraining order that prevented the defendants from going near any worksites.

But Judge Daniel L. Hovland said the restraining order was no longer necessary. He said it served no purpose to tell anyone to follow the law because everyone is supposed to follow the law.

"Enjoining a crime is superfluous as all persons are enjoined by the commands of our criminal laws," Hovland wrote in the seven-page decision. "All persons are expected to live in accordance with local, state, federal, and tribal laws, and to conduct themselves in a civil, respectful, and law-abiding manner."

#NoDAPL water protectors lock down equipment constructing the Dakota Access Pipeline north of the Standing Rock Sioux Reservation on September 6, 2016. Photo by Zoltán Grossman

As he dissolved the restraining order, Hovland offered some thoughts on the #NoDAPL movement. While acknowledging that the overwhelming majority of the thousands who are camped near the Standing Rock Sioux Reservation remain lawful, he said the actions of a few -- he described them as "hooligans" -- show the protests are far from "peaceful."

"With respect to the assertion the movement has been a peaceful protest, one need only turn on a television set or read any newspaper in North Dakota," the judge wrote. "There the viewer will find countless videos and photographs of the 'peaceful' protestors attaching themselves to construction equipment operated by Dakota Access; vandalizing and defacing construction equipment; trespassing on privately-owned property; obstructing work on the pipeline; and verbally taunting, harassing, and showing disrespect to members of the law enforcement community."

"The Morton County Sheriff reported that 22 protestors were arrested on September 13, 2016, just a few days ago," Hovland added. "To suggest that all of the protest activities to date have been 'peaceful' and law-abiding defies common sense and reality."

Hovland largely lacks jurisdiction over those incidents -- indeed, he pointed out that Standing Rock leaders are being prosecuted in state court. Their crimes appear to be relatively minor, with Archambault facing one "disorderly conduct" charge, which is considered a Misdemeanor Class B in North Dakota.


Democracy Now! on YouTube: Dakota Access Pipeline Company Attacks Native American Protesters with Dogs & Pepper Spray

So far, only about 50 people -- a "small percentage" as Hovland admitted -- have been arrested out of the estimated 2,000 to 5,000 who have been at the #NoDAPL encampment in the last several weeks. Some of the cases seem particularly egregious, with journalist Amy Goodman of Democracy Now! facing a misdemeanor trespassing charge in connection with her widely-seen report of a September 3 confrontation during which local law enforcement were not even present.

"Freedom of the press is essential to the functioning of a democratic society. North Dakota, muzzle the dogs, not the press," Goodman and her husband, Denis Moynihan, who used to work for Democracy Now!, wrote in a column last week. Dogs and mace were used by private security guards on the resisters.

The cases are proceeding in Morton County, where Sheriff Kyle Kirchmeier has repeatedly accused #NoDAPL resisters of unlawful activity in posts on Facebook rather than taking action through the justice system. He has acknowledged that his deputies stood back during the September 3 incident and during another that resulted in charges against Jill Stein, the Green Party's nominee for president.

Morton County is overwhelmingly non-Indian despite its presence near the Standing Rock Sioux Reservation. According to the U.S. Census Bureau, only 4.1 percent of the population is Native.

The elected leadership is non-Indian as well. Rather than welcome or offer services to the #NoDAPL encampment, the county commission declared an "emergency" last month and its chairman, Cody Schulz, basically told resisters to leave after a federal judge thousands of miles away issued a ruling that has since been put on hold temporarily by a higher court.

Hundreds turned out for #NoDAPL rally in Seattle, Washington, on September 16, 2016. Source: Chris Stearns (Navajo) on Twitter

The encampments and the #NoDAPL movement, however, have continued to grow. Nearly 300 tribes have issued letters of support, passed resolutions and sent official delegations and supplies to North Dakota. Unity marches and rallies have been held across the nation and even in other countries.

"I experienced the Camp as a 'liberated zone,' a community of thousands that fed itself, danced and sang together, and celebrated every time another tribe arrived," professor Zoltán Grossman wrote on Indianz.Com on Monday.

Dakota Access has repeatedly brought up the North Dakota case during proceedings in a different lawsuit that the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe filed in federal court in Washington, D.C. William Leone, an attorney for the pipeline partnership, has contended that Archambault and others have violated an "injunction" even though one was never in place and even though the judge in North Dakota never determined that the temporary restraining order had ever been violated.

"To continue to enjoin criminal misconduct in this civil action, under pain of a contempt sanction, would serve no legitimate purpose," Judge Hovland wrote on Friday.

On September 9, the judge in D.C. denied the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe's request for a preliminary injunction against Dakota Access. The Obama administration then followed with an extraordinary action that put a key portion of the pipeline near the reservation on hold.

Subsequently, the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe and the Cheyenne River Sioux Tribe asked the D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals to impose an injunction while the case proceeds. The court granted their request on Friday and ordered Dakota Access to cease construction within 20 miles on both sides of Lake Oahe.

"The tribe appreciates this brief reprieve from pipeline construction and will continue to oppose this project, which will severely jeopardize its water and cultural resources," Standing Rock Sioux leaders said in a statement on Friday. "We will not rest until our lands, people, waters, and sacred sites are permanently protected from this destructive pipeline."

Relevant Documents:
Decision in Dakota Access LLC v. Dave Archambault, II (September 16, 2016)

DC Circuit Court of Appeals #NoDAPL Injunction:
Order: Standing Rock Sioux Tribe v. U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (September 16, 2016)

Related Stories:
Zoltán Grossman: Cowboys are quiet as tribes unite for #NoDAPL (9/19)
Dave Archambault: Disaster placed on Standing Rock's doorstep (9/19)
David Gipp: Standing Rock Sioux Tribe stands up for life and water (9/19)
Terri Miles: That 'information point' at the #NoDAPL encampment (9/19)
Peter d'Errico: Be bold in fighting Dakota Access Pipeline in court (9/19)
Appeals court halts Dakota Access Pipeline work pending hearing (9/16)
Sparring continues in #NoDAPL lawsuit as tribes seek halt to work (9/16)
Bronson Koenig hosts basketball clinic for youth at Standing Rock (9/16)
Senate passes water bill but fails to include #NoDAPL amendment (9/15)
White House to respond to #NoDAPL petition with 203K signatures (9/15)
Doug George-Kanentiio: Prophecy and the people at Standing Rock (9/15)
Mark Trahant: There is something we can do to help Standing Rock (9/15)
Native Sun News Today: #NoDAPL movement forges ahead to win (9/15)
Mary Annette Pember: Indigenous women lead prayers for water (9/15)
Steve Russell: Legal encounters and the Dakota Access Pipeline (9/15)
Emotions run strong as #NoDAPL seeps into debate on lands bill (9/14)
Defenders of the Water School is going strong at #NoDAPL camp (9/14)
Key House Democrats call for hearing on Dakota Access Pipeline (9/14)
Brandon Ecoffey: Pipeline destroys our sacred and cultural sites (9/14)
Jori Kaniehtakohe Rourke: Our people unite in #NoDAPL battle (9/14)
Hundreds rally at White House to block Dakota Access Pipeline (9/13)
Judge won't grant injunction to protect sacred sites in DAPL path (9/12)
Democracy Now: Standing Rock Sioux Tribe creates 'awakening' (9/12)
Mark Trahant: #NoDAPL movement forces long overdue debate (9/12)
Matthew Fletcher: Obama joins tribes on the right side of history (9/12)
Steve Russell: Anonymous makes appearance in #NoDAPL fight (9/12)
Liz Perez Halperin: Why this warrior stands up for Standing Rock (9/12)
Obama steps in with major action halting Dakota Access Pipeline (9/9)
Tribes move quickly to protect sacred lands within pipeline path (9/9)
Cheyenne River Sioux Tribe thanks Obama for #NoDAPL stance (9/9)
Indian Country eagerly anticipates decision in #NoDAPL lawsuit (9/9)
Lakota Country Times: Henry Red Cloud takes stand for #NoDAPL (9/9)
Ernestine Chasing Hawk: A history of resistance at Standing Rock (9/9)
Steve Russell: Legal encounters and the Dakota Access Pipeline (9/9)
Obama dodges #NoDAPL query as youth question commitment (9/8)
Standing Rock Sioux Tribe urges calm ahead of #NoDAPL ruling (9/8)
Mark Trahant: White House must get involved in #NoDAPL fight (9/8)
Native Sun News Today: Law clamps down on #NoDAPL resisters (9/8)
Ivan Star Comes Out: #NoDAPL movement is about sacred water (9/8)
Jim Gray: Mainstream media is missing the major #NoDAPL story (9/8)
Gyasi Ross: Doing your part to ensure #NoDAPL keeps on winning (9/8)
Sheriff recruiting more law enforcement for #NoDAPL campsites (9/8)
#NoDAPL movement takes center stage at North Dakota summit (9/7)
Lakota Country Times: School going strong at #NoDAPL campsite (9/7)
Mark Charles: The #NoDAPL struggle continues after hearing in DC (9/7)
Dave Archambault II: The Dakota Access Pipeline musn't be built (9/7)
Eastern Cherokees contribute $50K to Standing Rock Sioux Tribe (9/7)
Jill Stein of Green Party faces charges for standing with #NoDAPL (9/7)
Dave Archambault: Dakota Access Pipeline destroys sacred sites (9/7)
Steven Newcomb: Vicious dogs unleashed on #NoDAPL resisters (9/7)
Mike Myers: Historic ties between the Haudenosaunee and Sioux (9/7)
Standing Rock Sioux Tribe disappointed with ruling in #NoDAPL case (9/6)
Dakota Access fires back at tribes ahead of hearing in federal court (9/6)
Lakota Country Times: Tribes still united at #NoDAPL encampment (9/6)
Native Sun News: Death highlights dangers of Dakota Access work (9/6)
Hearing ordered after Standing Rock Sioux Tribe reports destruction (9/5)
Army Corps backs restraining order against Dakota Access Pipeline (9/5)
Quinault Nation sends Grandfather Canoe to #NoDAPL encampment (9/5)
Sarah Sunshine Manning: Dogs attack peaceful #NoDAPL resisters (9/5)
LaDonna Brave Bull Allard: We have no choice but to defend water (9/5)
Jacqueline Keeler: #NoDAPL resistance is part of something bigger (9/5)
Steve Russell: Federal Indian law and the Dakota Access Pipeline (9/5)
Standing Rock Sioux Tribe reports cultural finds near pipeline path (9/2)
Mark Trahant: #NoDAPL poses test for Hillary Clinton and Tim Kaine (9/2)
Native Sun News: Cartoonist brings humor to #NoDAPL movement (9/2)
Tribal activists cheer demise of controversial pipeline in Minnesota (9/2)
United Nations Forum backs Standing Rock Sioux Tribe on #NoDAPL (9/1)
Native Sun News: Northern Cheyenne Tribe joins #NoDAPL efforts (9/1)
Jim Kent: The real truth about the #NoDAPL resistance movement (9/1)
Mark Trahant: Candidate shows support for #NoDAPL movement (9/1)
Lakota Country Times: #NoDAPL roadblock remains a major issue (8/31)
Brandon Ecoffey: #NoDAPL resistance is the start of a movement (8/31)
Dave Archambault: Struggle unfolds on Standing Rock Sioux land (8/31)
Terri Miles: Indian Country unites to stare down the black snake (8/31)
Joel Heitkamp: Officials in North Dakota need a lesson in respect (8/31)
Standing Rock Sioux Tribe confirms lack of easement for pipeline (8/30)
Supplies needed for #NoDAPL Defenders of Sacred Water School (8/30)
Lakota Country Times: Students witness history at pipeline camp (8/30)
Vi Waln: Media distorts peaceful nature of sacred #NoDAPL camp (8/30)
Mike Myers: Historic ties between the Haudenosaunee and Sioux (8/30)
Mark Anthony Rolo: Tribes remain at mercy of bad federal policies (8/30)
Defenders of the Water School opens at pipeline resistance camp (8/29)
Lakota Country Times: Resisters dispute emergency declaration (8/29)
Dave Archambault: Stopping the desecration of our Mother Earth (8/29)
Mark Trahant: State erects roadblock at peaceful #NoDAPL camp (8/29)
Latoya Lonelodge: Witnessing history at Camp of Sacred Stones (8/29)
Jon Eagle: Land remains sacred to the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe (8/29)
Albert Bender: Tribes join together at Camp of the Sacred Stones (8/29)
Steven Newcomb: Law of Christendom at play in #NoDAPL battle (8/29)
Arvol Looking Horse: Saving our Earth from energy development (8/29)
Tribal Tribune: Unity at Standing Rock Sioux Tribe's #NoDAPL camp (8/26)
Winona LaDuke: Corporate interests come to destroy our mother (8/26)
Sarah Sunshine Manning: #NoDAPL campaign awakens our people (8/26)
Dakota Access Pipeline lacks key approval to build by reservation (8/26)
Lummi Nation sends totem pole to #NoDAPL camp in North Dakota (8/26)
Dave Archambault: Why the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe is fighting (8/25)
Cheyenne River Sioux Tribe chair dispels rumors about camp site (8/25)
Sen. Bernie Sanders joining opposition to Dakota Access Pipeline (8/25)
Native Sun News: Thousands join #NoDAPL resistance movement (8/25)
Standing Rock Sioux Tribe sees strong support at pipeline hearing (8/24)
Kayla DeVault: Navajo Nation must take a stand on Dakota Access (8/24)
Cheyenne River Sioux Tribe seeks prayers ahead of pipeline hearing (8/23)
Lakota Country Times: Oglala Sioux Tribe joins fight against pipeline (8/23)
Brandon Ecoffey: The Horse Nations prepare for battle over pipeline (8/23)
Simon Moya-Smith: Hillary Clinton remains silent amid pipeline feud (8/23)
Steven Newcomb: Standing Rock Sioux Tribe challenges domination (8/23)
Sheriff mistook sacred pipes for pipe bombs at pipeline protest site (8/23)
Tribes prepare for critical hearing in Dakota Access Pipeline lawsuit (8/22)
Mark Trahant: Pipeline fight highlights power of political organizing (8/22)
Lakota Country Times: Tribes unite to stop Dakota Access Pipeline (8/22)
Vi Waln: Our water system is being threatened by energy pipelines (8/22)
Winona LaDuke: Bigger problems ahead for Dakota Access Pipeline (8/22)
Dallas Goldtooth: Tribes shut out of Dakota Access Pipeline process (8/22)
Native Sun News: Resistance grows against Dakota Access Pipeline (08/18)
Harold Frazier: Obama must put a stop to Dakota Access Pipeline (08/15)
Tribes and Native youth join forces in campaign to stop oil pipeline (08/11)
Democrats embrace tribal sovereignty in platform for convention (07/08)
Dakota Access Pipeline to go underneath tribal burial site in Iowa (06/22)
Native Sun News: Standing Rock Sioux Tribe battles oil pipeline (06/08)
Iowa board approves energy pipeline work amid tribal objections (06/07)
Native Sun News: Tribes score big in fights against energy projects (05/26)
Standing Rock Sioux Tribe seeks halt to construction of pipeline (05/12)
Native Sun News: Youth run 500 miles to protest new oil pipeline (05/11)
Native Sun News: Standing Rock Sioux Tribe aims to stop pipeline (04/27)
Standing Rock Sioux Tribe and Army Corps to discuss oil pipeline (04/26)
Native Sun News: Tribes gaining traction in war against pipelines (04/20)
Brandon Ecoffey: Tribes continue battle against energy pipelines (04/19)
Standing Rock Sioux Tribe sets up sacred camp to oppose pipeline (04/15)
Native Sun News: Tribes organize against Dakota Access Pipeline (04/13)
Iowa Tribe joins fight against oil pipeline on aboriginal territory (3/24)
Native Sun News: Standing Rock Sioux Tribe battles pipeline plan (3/14)
Native Sun News: Tribes fight another pipeline through Great Plains (07/07)
Meskwaki Tribe opposes oil pipeline through aboriginal territory (03/17)