Chairman Dave Archambault II of the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe addresses the media outside of the federal courthouse in Washington, D.C., on October 5, 2016. Photo by Indianz.Com (CC BY-NC-SA 4.0)

North Dakota tribal organization passes on #NoDAPL foe with endorsement

The United Tribes of North Dakota are endorsing a federal prosecutor as U.S. Attorney for their state.

The tribes adopted a resolution in support of Clare Hochhalter, who currently serves as assistant prosecutor, on July 20, The Bismarck Tribune reported. In doing so, the organization passed over Drew Wrigley, who was a fierce critic of the #NoDAPL movement last year as the state's lieutenant governor.

"I would rather have somebody who I know doesn't have a biased opinion towards the tribes," Chairman Dave Archambault II of the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe told The Tribune, in explaining why he opposes Wrigley.

Despite the endorsement, it's not clear whether it will carry much weight because Sen. John Hoeven (R-North Dakota), who serves as chairman of the Senate Committee on Indian Affairs, supports Wrigley, a spokesperson told the paper. His recommendation is likely to influence President Donald Trump, who is responsible for nominating the U.S. Attorney.

Last August, as thousands flocked to North Dakota to support Standing Rock in its fight against the Dakota Access Pipeline, Wrigley visited The Tribune and tore into the movement. He said project opponents were engaging in "unlawful" activities and suggested that anyone who was at the massive encampment was guilty of "conspiracy" regardless of their actual actions.

"[I]t has become an unlawful protest," Wrigley told the paper. "And there is no way to peacefully and lawfully participate in an unlawful protest."

The U.S. Attorney is responsible for prosecuting crime in Indian Country. Tim Purdon, who held the post for most of the Obama administration, worked to improve relations with tribes, including Standing Rock.

Purdon's predecessor was Wrigley, whose priorities largely reflected those of the George W. Bush administration, such as addressing terrorism, drugs and border issues. But he repeatedly spoke out against legislation to require federal prosecutors to provide data on the number of crimes they decline to pursue in Indian Country.

Lawmakers from both parties rejected Wrigley's concerns and required the Department of Justice to provide declination information through the Tribal Law and Order Act of 2010. Reports are to be delivered yearly, although the Obama administration didn't enjoy a strong record on meeting the obligation.

Read More on the Story:
Association of North Dakota tribes endorse Hochhalter for U.S. Attorney (The Bismarck Tribune 7/26)

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