At the resistance camps in North Dakota the rain is falling hard, the snow is melting and the mud is getting thicker. Water protectors, veterans and crew members are having an increasingly difficult time cleaning up the camps which has left many pleading for help to extend the eviction deadline.
Water Protectors Say The Deadline Is Unrealistic
Angie Spencer has been working with the medical crew and campers at Oceti Sakowin since the Fall of 2016. She describes the weather causing major issues with campers who are taking down tipi poles, long houses and other semi-permanent structures. These buildings require maneuvering and some patience to take down as opposed to rushing in and tearing them down which could damage both the building materials and the land. “This process needs to be done with respect,” she wrote on her social media page. She is one of many on the front-lines who are becomingly increasingly concerned that forceful removal of property will also bring arrests.
“The February 22nd eviction date is unrealistic and will cause an incident where people would be removed by arrest and force”. – Angie Spencer
HolyElk Lafferty has been part of the daily meetings with Army Corps of Engineers workers trying to negotiate terms to get cleanup done as quickly as possible. “We believe that this is an unrealistic timeline which can only result in forcible removal of Water Protectors and our sacred and personal belongings” she wrote recently. She mentions how work is being done both during the day and at night with everyone working hard but has her doubts that the cleanup will be done in time to meet the deadline. HolyElk explains “We are in full cooperation with The Army Corp of Engineers and are committed to a good faith combined effort to clean up the land. We want good relations with ACOE and believe that all parties can be honored for a positive outcome.”
Even With Help From Veterans & Contractors They Still Have Too Much To Clean
The deadline was ordered just a few weeks ago and campers haven’t always had much outside assistance to get things cleaned up. Veterans arrived during these last couple of weeks as well as indigenous contractors, volunteers and nearby residents of Bismark to help clean up the lands before the floodplains fill with water from a nearby dam along the Cannonball River which is emptied out every year. “It’s hard to imagine a time in America when police officers would target a veterans group for trying to help a community and support our fellow vets” says Mark Sanderson, a leader of VeteransRespond (a group created to assist with stranded veterans at the camps during the 2016 call-out for veteran assistance).
“It’s hard to imagine a time in America when police officers would target a veterans group for trying to help a community and support our fellow vets”
You Can Help Water Protectors By Asking For A Deadline Extension
Your voice is important and can make a difference! If you can spare a few minutes to make a couple of phone calls before the February 22nd deadline then that would be enough to at least say you tried to help. You can contact the Army Corps Of Engineers offices in DC and Bismark and politely ask for an extension for campers to be allowed to cleanup.It is essential that you are respectful and non-aggressive but do be persistent!
“I ask you to contact the ACOE to make this request in a respectful way that will continue to feed the positive efforts that are being made on the ground by all parties” urges HolyElk Lafferty.
Army Corps Of Engineers Pipeline Hotline: 202-761-8700
Army Corps Of Engineers Main Line: 202-761-0011
Army Corps Of Engineers Chief Public Affairs Officer: 202-761-0014
Army Corps Of Engineers North Dakota Office: 701-255-0015