Spokesman leaves camp as elders seek to keep peace
BISMARCK - A spokesman for one faction of the Dakota Access Pipeline resistance said Monday, Oct. 31, that he has left the camp at the request of his tribe's elders. The elders raised concerns after destructive actions, including vehicles being s...
BISMARCK – A spokesman for one faction of the Dakota Access Pipeline resistance said Monday, Oct. 31, that he has left the camp at the request of his tribe’s elders.
The elders raised concerns after destructive actions, including vehicles being set ablaze, last Thursday as authorities evicted protesters from the pipeline company’s property.
Cody Hall of Eagle Butte, S.D., a member of the Cheyenne River Sioux Tribe in South Dakota, said tribal elders contacted him after Thursday’s chaotic events and asked him “don’t be there as a spokesperson for a group that could take things possibly in an approach that is very volatile toward the overall group.”
“People just said, ‘Cody, it’s not looking good overall,’” he said.
Hall’s comments came a day after Frank Archambault, a member of the camp security team at the main Oceti Sakowin Camp where hundreds and sometimes thousands of mostly Native American pipeline opponents have been camping since August, told Forum News Service that tribal elders had asked them to “get a grip” on destructive activity that could overshadow the peaceful and prayerful protest.
“We are not condoning anything like that,” said Archambault, a cousin of Standing Rock Sioux Tribe Chairman Dave Archambault II. “We are trying to get a hold of the radicals and get them dismissed.”
During Thursday’s hours-long confrontation that led to 141 arrests, dissension broke out on the front lines, with some protesters calling for prayer instead of more aggressive acts.
Authorities said at least nine vehicles were torched, including a construction company’s bulldozer and two military-style trucks that were still smoldering Sunday next to Backwater Bridge just north of the main camp. On the nearby Morton County Road 134 bridge, protesters held police at bay for hours with a fire fueled with logs, branches and hay bales, then set a pickup truck full of wooden pallets and rubber boots on fire before they left. Both bridges remained closed Monday.
Pipeline opponents criticized law enforcement for shooting protesters with pepper spray, bean bag rounds and sponge rounds as officers tried to clear a roadblock and protest camp set up in the path of the pipeline. Authorities said they used only enough force to defuse the situation as protesters threw logs and water bottles at them and refused to comply with requests to leave the area.
As a spokesman for the Red Warrior Camp, Hall had previously condemned the vandalism of Dakota Access construction equipment during protest actions.
Hall said Monday that while he has disassociated himself from the Red Warrior Camp, he will continue to support the overall effort against the pipeline and believes a nonviolent approach can still prove successful. He said while seeing Dakota Access construction crews move closer to the Missouri River at Lake Oahe is tough to swallow, there’s still a place to make a stand on the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers land along and under the river, where the Obama administration continues to withhold the river crossing easement.
“I still believe we can win this with the bigger approach of who we are and what we stand for,” he said.