Thousands came to “Stand with Standing Rock” in a collective effort to block the 1,172-mile, 500,000-barrel-a-day oil pipeline from completing its journey under the nearby Missouri River. Through prayer and direct action, they pledged to protect the water for Dakota Natives and some 17 million other Americans, and to prevent the desecration of Native sites. Representatives of some 300 North American tribes planted flags here, and Standing Rock became an international symbol of Native rights and the fight over climate change.
In the second Battle of Standing Rock, as a brutal winter settles in on the Northern Plains, many tribal officials and the hardy “water protectors” are squaring off.
Under other circumstances President Trump’s renewed vow to build the pipeline might have united the two factions. But the tribe wants pipeline foes to leave before anyone freezes to death or drowns when the annual spring snow melt inundates the main protest camp. The Standing Rock Tribal Council, citing public safety, is urging the “water protectors” to shut down all three protest encampments along the Cannonball River. This despite the fact that the original camp, Sacred Stone, is on high ground and private land. The land belongs to Ladonna Bravebull Allard, who has vowed to keep Sacred Stone open. And in a stunning move, the chairman of the nearby Cheyenne River tribe, Harold Frazier, announced the lease of 25 acres of land on the Standing Rock reservation, where pipeline resisters will also be welcome. Many in the camps, including enrolled members of the Standing Rock tribe, resent the council’s edict and have no intention of following it.
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