Native Sun News Today: #NoDAPL campsites see their final days

The Sacred Stone Camp, the original #NoDAPL encampment in North Dakota, hosted the "Honoring Our Grandmothers" gathering from February18-19, 2017 Photo courtesy Curtis Ray Yaz

Trucks haul garbage from campsites
By Talli Nauman
Native Sun News Today
Health & Environment Editor

CANNON BALL, N.D. –– In an edgy calm before a February 22 target date for clearing out spirit camps established to defend treaty territory near the Standing Rock Sioux Reservation from construction of the Dakota Access Pipeline, lawmakers considered legislation to boost state control over people who take part in future actions to oppose such projects.

Sacred Stone Camp hosted a gathering Feb. 18-19 “Honoring Our Grandmothers.” It announced, “We welcome women of all nations and ages to come together for this special time of prayer, teachings and unity here in Standing Rock, as a powerful movement to acknowledge the sacredness of Unci Maka, Mni Wiconi and the living grandmothers of the Oceti Sakowin.”

The camp, which opened on April 1, 2016, was the first of several to accommodate peaceful prayer gatherings to protect sacred sites and Missouri River water from damage along the oil pipeline’s route. The camps attracted as many as 10,000 people throughout the rest of the year.

The Standing Rock Sioux Tribe has ordered participants in Sacred Stone Camp to pack up and abandon the premises, which is within its reservation boundaries. Camp founder LaDonna Brave Bull Allard received notice Feb. 10 that the place should be vacated within 10 days.

Meanwhile, the larger Oceti Sakowin Camp to the north, under jurisdiction of the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, has orders from that agency and the state of North Dakota to meet the Feb. 22 removal deadline.

Volunteers from the camps are salvaging donations from supporters while garbage disposal businesses contracted by the Corps are hauling away the remains of Oceti Sakowin Camp, the historic site of the largest gathering of the Seven Council Fires of the Great Sioux Nation since the Battle of the Little Bighorn in 1876.

The federal orders to move out cite predictions that melting snow is soon to cause flood waters at Oceti Sakowin Camp, and they respond to tribal members’ request that their government evict Sacred Stone campers.

Welcoming the disbanding of the camps was Morton County Law Enforcement, which has gone through as much as $30 million since August in policing prayer vigils and using military force to jail more than 700 dissidents.

“With near term weather outlooks showing an above normal chance for warmer than normal temperatures and precipitation, it is imperative that those living in the floodplain of the Cannonball River collect their belongings and leave immediately to ensure public safety,” the sheriff’s office urged on Feb. 16.

North Dakota Attorney General Wayne Stenehjem added his call the next day, noting, “It is a separate criminal offense to refuse to comply with an emergency evacuation order.” On Feb. 15, South Dakota Gov. Dennis Daugaard introduced a detailed and far-reaching amendment in the state Legislature that would create an immediate state of emergency as soon as it passes, subsequently conferring special powers on himself should pipeline construction opponents take future action in the state.

In the event of an occurrence “that may consume significant public resources, poses a threat to public or private property, and poses a threat to the health and welfare of the public, the Governor may declare any location within the state to be a public safety zone” and authorize any emergency action under the Public Health & Safety statutes “without declaring an emergency or disaster, within the public safety zone and within one mile thereof,” the bill proposes.

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