Tribe member on pipeline protests: 'We are in for the long haul'

"We're trying to stay strong through all of this", he said.

He also referenced last Friday's order by the corps to vacate the land by December 5.

More than 500 people have been arrested in demonstrations since the summer and one woman almost lost an arm when she was injured during a clash with police on November 20. That announcement raised fears that law enforcement would attempt to forcibly evict the camps, but on Sunday, the Corps clarified that it had "no plans for forcible removal".

The Indigenous Environmental Network, a group that has supported protesters, called the Corps' decision to close the camp "short-sighted and risky", adding the agency should stop the pipeline's construction north of the Standing Rock Indian Reservation if it wants to keep people safe.

Gov. Jack Dalrymple called the Corps' position "very puzzling".

"They are the ones who are bringing the aggression", he said. Drilling that oil pipeline could contaminate the livelihood of so many people, primarily indigenous people of this land that have been systematically destroyed since Europeans arrived in America.

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Dalrymple's evacuation order was issued on Monday due to the "harsh winter conditions".

Cecily Fong, spokeswoman for the Department of Emergency Services, said law enforcement can stop vehicles in the area of the protest camp in southern Morton County and issue a $1,000 fine if the motorists are delivering supplies to the area under the evacuation order.

The 1,172-mile pipeline is almost complete except for a small section beneath a Missouri River reservoir near the encampment, which is about 50 miles south of Bismarck.

The Army Corps, which reviews pipeline-construction permits for the US Department of Interior, has said it's seeking additional information from the Standing Rock Sioux, who object to the pipeline because it threatens sacred tribal lands and would pollute water from the Missouri River's Lake Oahe reservoir as part of the project's four-state, almost 1,200-mile route. They also believe the land near the confluence of the Missouri and Cannonball rivers is still rightfully owned by the Standing Rock Sioux under a almost 150-year-old treaty.

Since the statement's release, however, officials have backtracked, saying they have no plans to forcibly remove those who stay. Last week, violence broke out when protesters tried to cross a bridge near the reservation that has been blocked by law enforcement.

The sheriff said state and local officials lack jurisdiction to remove the protesters.

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The department is plowing Highway 1806, but is working with the Bureau of Indian Affairs as an escort to plow the highway north of the Cannonball intersection near the protest camp, she said. "We want unity. We don't want division", said Kayla Wolf, an organizer of the protest.

In his Saturday statement, Dalrymple said more delays do "nothing but prolong and intensify the public safety issues imposed on Morton County and the state of North Dakota".

"That's what I'm hoping, or at least cut the number of them", he added.

"Workers do not feel safe there", he said. "The police pepper sprayed people sitting in the water", he said. "If we can show solidarity from many miles away, than maybe other individuals can also have the courage to stand in support of Standing Rock".

The agency will ask to borrow an additional $7 million from the Bank of North Dakota to support law enforcement costs associated with the protests during Wednesday's meeting of the North Dakota Emergency Commission, according to the meeting agenda.

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