Standing Rock Sioux Chairman David Archambault II continued his calls for peace on Thursday as North Dakota Gov. Jack Dalrymple called out the National Guard to “serve in administrative capacity and assist in providing security at traffic points” as a part of increased police presence monitoring the water protectors at the construction site of the Dakota Access pipeline over the coming weekend.
“I have asked General Dohrmann to make available some North Dakota National Guard personnel to support law enforcement and augment their public safety efforts,” Dalrymple said at a press conference live-streamed on Facebook, referring to Major General Alan S. Dohrmann, who heads the guard in North Dakota. “The guard members will serve in administrative capacity and assist in providing security at traffic points. Beginning today the traffic control point on [Highway] 1806 will be converted to a traffic information point—advising motorists of a potential hazard but not requiring a detour.”
In a statement, Archambault said he had consulted with Dalrymple and that the Guard would not enter the prayer camps that have been set up alongside the Missouri and Cannonball rivers since mid-August.
“Thousands of people, from members of the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe, tribes across the nation and First Nations in Canada, to non-Native supporters in the United States and around the world, have stood in solidarity against the harm and destruction caused by the Dakota Access Pipeline,” Archambault said in a statement. “We have stood side by side in peaceful prayer.”
The National Guard’s assistance would “free up more officers for enhanced patrols and calls for assistance,” Dalrymple said. “I have also placed additional guardsmen on standby alert in the event they are needed to assist with response efforts. The guard members will provide valuable personnel, resources and equipment necessary to support local, tribal and state officials.”
A National Guard spokesperson confirmed that they would not be entering the prayer camps.
“Personnel from the North Dakota National Guard have been called upon by the governor to support law enforcement and augment public safety efforts, in light of recent activity with the Dakota Access Pipeline Protest,” said spokesperson Maj. Amber Balken in an e-mailed statement. “The Guard members will serve in administrative capacities and assist in providing security at traffic information points. The Guardsmen will not be going to the actual protest site. The Governor also placed additional Guardsmen on standby alert in the event they are needed to support law enforcement response efforts.”
The move comes a day before the scheduled ruling by U.S. District Court Judge James Boasberg on the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe’s request for an injunction to stop the pipeline from being routed under the Missouri River a half-mile from their reservation. After a hearing on August 24, Boasberg said he would rule by September 9.
On Friday September 2, Standing Rock filed more court papers stipulating that burial grounds and sacred sites were in the pathway of the construction area. Over the Labor Day holiday weekend, Dakota Access workers bulldozed those sites, allegedly using the court papers as a map to locate them. Water protectors trying to stop them were attacked with dogs and pepper spray deployed by a private security firm.
Boasberg called a new hearing on Tuesday September 6 and temporarily halted parts of the construction, though not on the area containing sacred sites. That, he said, was on private land, which his court did not have jurisdiction over.
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North Dakota authorities alleged that some of those in camp had pipe bombs and molotov cocktails, charges that they backed off of after they could not be substantiated.
Standing Rock Sioux Chairman David Archambault II called for peace regardless of the September 9 court outcome.
“The pipeline threatens our sacred lands and the health of 17 million people who rely upon the Missouri River for water,” he said. “There is a lot at stake with the court decision tomorrow. We call upon all water protectors to greet any decision with peace and order. Even if the outcome of the court’s ruling is not in our favor, we will continue to explore every lawful option and fight against the construction of the pipeline.”
Archambault reiterated that the prayer camps are just that—reserved for prayer and peaceful action.
“Any act of violence hurts our cause and is not welcome here,” he said. “We invite all supporters to join us in prayer that, ultimately, the right decision—the moral decision—is made to protect our people, our sacred places, our land and our resources.”