Faced with an imminent evacuation deadline, Indigenous opponents of the Dakota Access pipeline are vowing to stand their ground despite threats of arrest and possible violence.
The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers on Tuesday refused to extend the Wednesday 2pm GMT deadline for the few hundred remaining water protectors to vacate the Oceti Sakowin camp, claiming that the camp is at risk of flooding. Representatives have asked for an extension, saying they can clear out without the Corps' help, but need more time.
Meanwhile, the activists say they are surrounded by law enforcement with reports of an increased presence of federal Bureau of Indian Affairs vehicles in the surrounding area.
"We have 48 hours before militarized law enforcement raid Oceti Sakowin camp. Elders and children need protection," states a video that was distributed on Monday by women from the Standing Rock Sioux tribe.
"After the deadline for February 22 at 2pm, we are all at risk of facing arrest, police brutality, federal charges and prison time," declares one of the women.
"In the history of colonization, they've always given us two options," said another. "Give up our land or go to jail, give up our rights or go to jail. And now, give up our water, or go to jail. We are not criminals."
The video concludes with a plea for other protectors and media to come to the camp before the forced evacuation, saying: "We need your help."
Throughout the months-long resistance effort, pipeline opponents have protested through legal channels as well as peaceful civil disobedience. In return, they have faced dog attacks, water cannons in subzero temperatures, and tear gas, in addition to arrest and trumped up charges.
But tensions have escalated since newly-elected President Donald Trump issued an executive order last month calling for the completion of the controversial pipeline, which the tribe says infringes on treaty rights, and threatens to pollute their water and that of 17 million Americans.
Many say that Wednesday could be the protectors' "last stand."
"They don't understand people are willing to die here," one 90-year-old woman told The Intercept, which on Tuesday published a separate video documenting the police build-up. "They don’t understand we will not back down. We have our ancestors with us and we are in prayer that Tunkashila (Great Spirit in Lakota) will guide us in our freedom."
Others described the situation on the ground as a "war zone," with police and snipers hovering on the perimeter of the camp.
Updates on the unfolding situation are being shared with the hashtag #NoDAPL.
Forced removal isn't just in the history books. It's happening tomorrow on treaty lands at Standing Rock. #NoDAPL— Ruth Hopkins (@RuthHHopkins) February 21, 2017