Skip to main content

Sign up for our newsletter.

Quality journalism. Progressive values. Direct to your inbox.

Water protectors

"This is Lakota territory. This is treaty territory. No one has jurisdiction but us," said Phyllis Young of the Standing Rock Sioux at a press conference Monday. (Photo: Reuters)

Tensions Mount as ND Governor Cuts Services, Orders Evacuation of Standing Rock Camp

North Dakota Gov. Jack Dalrymple cut off emergency services and ordered evacuation of the Oceti Sakowin protest camp

Nika Knight

Peaceful Indigenous water protectors battling the Dakota Access Pipeline in North Dakota have faced water cannons in subfreezing temperatures, rubber bullets, and police tactics so violent that one protester nearly lost an arm.

But instead of addressing the police brutality, Republican Gov. Jack Dalrymple late Monday slapped the water protectors living at the Oceti Sakowin protest camp with an evacuation order and severed their access to emergency services.

The order followed a similar one from the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, the legal owner of the land on which the Oceti Sakowin camp is situated. The Standing Rock Sioux Tribe and its allies, however, argue that the land belongs to the tribe under the 1851 Fort Laramie treaty.

"This is Lakota territory. This is treaty territory. No one has jurisdiction but us," said Phyllis Young of the Standing Rock Sioux at a press conference Monday.

Tara Houska, national campaigns director for Honor the Earth, posted the governor's executive order on social media:

Dr. Adrienne Keene, a member of the Cherokee Nation as well as a writer and professor, further observed that a police roadblock is already preventing emergency services from reaching the camp:

Both the U.S. Army Corps and Dalrymple have said they will not remove the Indigenous people from the land by force, but the water protectors fear that the two orders—combined with the severing of emergency services—will embolden the Morton County Sheriff's Department.

"If the true concern is for public safety than the Governor should clear the blockade and the county law enforcement should cease all use of flash grenades, high-pressure water cannons in freezing temperatures, dog kennels for temporary human jails, and any harmful weaponry against human beings," said Standing Rock Sioux Tribe chairman Dave Archambault II.

Water protectors, allies, and even prominent politicians—including 17 former members of President Barack Obama's administration—continue to call on the president to take action to support the Standing Rock Sioux:

The evacuation orders came as a group of 2,000 U.S. military veterans plan to "deploy" to the Oceti Sakowin camp to support the Indigenous resistance against the pipeline, and to stand as an unarmed militia against the violent tactics used by the Morton County Sheriff's Department.

And the water protectors filed a class-action lawsuit against the police on Monday, seeking to block them from using excessive force against peaceful activists.

Still, as tensions rise, many on the ground are steeling themselves for heightened violence from the state.

"We're going to hope for the absolute best," Linda Black Elk, a member of the Catawba Nation who works with the Standing Rock Medic & Healer Council, told the Guardian. "If they do attempt to remove people forcibly, we are certainly preparing for mass casualties." 


Our work is licensed under Creative Commons (CC BY-NC-ND 3.0). Feel free to republish and share widely.

This is the world we live in. This is the world we cover.

Because of people like you, another world is possible. There are many battles to be won, but we will battle them together—all of us. Common Dreams is not your normal news site. We don't survive on clicks. We don't want advertising dollars. We want the world to be a better place. But we can't do it alone. It doesn't work that way. We need you. If you can help today—because every gift of every size matters—please do. Without Your Support We Simply Don't Exist.

Biden Decries 'Outrageous' Treatment of Haitians at Border—But Keeps Deporting Them

"I'm glad to see President Biden speak out about the mistreatment of Haitian asylum-seekers. But his administration's use of Title 42 to deny them the right to make an asylum claim is a much bigger issue."

Jessica Corbett ·


Global Peace Activists Warn of Dangers of US-Led Anti-China Pacts

"No to military alliances and preparation for catastrophic wars," anti-war campaigners from over a dozen nations write in a letter decrying the new AUKUS agreement. "Yes to peace, disarmament, justice, and the climate."

Brett Wilkins ·


PG&E Charged With 11 Felony Counts—Including Manslaughter—Over 2020 Zogg Fire

"PG&E has a history with a repeated pattern of causing wildfires that is not getting better," said Shasta County District Attorney Stephanie Bridgett. "It's only getting worse."

Brett Wilkins ·


'Hold My Pearls': Debbie Dingell Lets Marjorie Taylor Green Have It Over Abortion Rights

The Michigan Democrat engaged in a verbal altercation with the far-right Republican lawmaker from Georgia on the steps of the U.S. Capitol Building.

Jon Queally ·


Dems Who Opposed Pentagon Cuts Received Nearly 4x More Donations From Weapons Makers

The latest passage of the NDAA "is particularly strong evidence that Pentagon contractors' interests easily take precedence over national security and the public interest for too many members of Congress," said one critic.

Kenny Stancil ·

Support our work.

We are independent, non-profit, advertising-free and 100% reader supported.

Subscribe to our newsletter.

Quality journalism. Progressive values.
Direct to your inbox.

Subscribe to our Newsletter.


Common Dreams, Inc. Founded 1997. Registered 501(c3) Non-Profit | Privacy Policy
Common Dreams Logo