In what could be a sign of progress in the Standing Rock protest, the Governor of North Dakota has proposed a meeting with the Standing Rock Sioux tribal chairman. According to a new report, Chairman Dave Archambault II has decided to accept Governor Jack Dalrymple’s invitation. While a date for the proposed meeting regarding the ongoing Standing Rock protest hasn’t yet been decided, the scheduling process has reportedly begun.
The news comes as thousands of United States veterans are descending upon Standing Rock in a show of solidarity with the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe, joining in the protest against the controversial Dakota Access Pipeline. The months-long protests against the pipeline is largely a cry to protect tribal water from possible contamination. The DAPL is being constructed under multiple waterways, including the Missouri River. What’s more, the Sioux also claim that the pipeline has damaged (or will damage) sacred ancient sites and burial grounds.
Reportedly, while the “Veterans Stand with Standing Rock” event doesn’t officially begin until December 4, many veterans have already “deployed” to the protest site. In addition to providing moral and physical support to the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe (participating veterans have promised to become a “human shield” for protesters), vets have brought with them much-needed supplies and have even reportedly built shelters for the protesters planning to hunker down at the disputed Dakota Access Pipeline site for the bitter North Dakota winter.
However, as The Bismark Tribune reports, it’s now looking like it might be possible for Standing Rock protesters to avoid a long, cold winter at the protest site near Cannon Ball. That is, if the meeting between North Dakota Governor Jack Dalrymple and Tribe Chairman Dave Archambault II goes well.
Reportedly, the two men have spoken several times since the Standing Rock protest began; but always over the phone, never face-to-face. It has been reported that when the tentatively agreed-upon meeting does take place, the entirety of the Standing Rock Sioux Tribal Council will join Archambault and the governor for their talks.
According to the North Dakota Governor, this proposed meeting is very important; he also stated that the relationship between the state and the Standing Rock Sioux are and will continue to be important, as well.
“It’s very important that we do not let this issue divide us as a state. The relationships that have built between the state and members of the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe are important and will continue to be important long after the pipeline issue is resolved.”
According to the Standing Rock Sioux Chairman, the Dakota Access Pipeline project is compromising tribal lands. In fact, Archambault says that while the U.S. government claims that the pipeline doesn’t trespass on Standing Rock Sioux land, the lands do belong to the tribe “by treaty.” Additionally, the tribe believes that the government has sided with the oil company with regard to the $3.8 billion project, putting the Standing Rock Sioux and the government of North Dakota in a “natural conflict.”
To make matters worse, North Dakota legislators reportedly silenced the Standing Rock Sioux’s political voice in the midst of the Dakota Access Pipeline conflict. They actually canceled the tribe’s traditional, biennial address to the state legislator in the midst of the controversy, something that has also angered and offended members of the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe.
“Relationships all around have been tainted, and it’s going to take time to repair.”
While the tribal chairman is not confident that the upcoming meeting between tribal leaders and the North Dakota governor will resolve the problems at hand, he says he’s hopeful that the “unhealthy” grievances can be rectified. One step toward that, according to Archambault, would be a “good faith” effort from the North Dakota government.
Namely, the Standing Rock protesters want the state to eliminate a blockade of the Backwater Bridge. According to the tribal leadership, the blockade is a huge problem and has been since it was implemented in late October. Archambault has wanted it gone for quite a while, and if the state removes it, it could mend some fences.
The state’s stance is that the bridge is blocked because it suffered damage on October 27 fires lit by Standing Rock protesters. The Sioux disagree, saying that whatever damage the bridge suffered shouldn’t make it inaccessible.
“There are roads throughout North Dakota that are worse off than that. The best thing to do is to remove (the blockade.)”
It has been reported that Dalrymple may be up for discussing the subject at the upcoming meeting.
Officially, the governor has expressed a desire to try to resolve the Standing Rock protest at the meeting; if that’s impossible, he would like to usher in a new phase of “goodwill and cooperation” between the state and the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe.
[Featured Image by Scott Olson/Getty Images]