Published: Mon, February 27, 2017
Economy | By Melissa Porter

Protest camp cleared, but area far from normal

A backhoe rips through a wood structure to begin the cleaning up process at the Oceti Sakowin camp as law enforcement swept through the camp arresting the final Dakota Access oil pipeline protesters in Morton County Thursday, Feb. 23, 2017, near Cannon Ball, N.D.

Guardsmen and officers entered the camp from two directions shortly before midday, alongside numerous law enforcement and military vehicles and with a helicopter and airplane overhead.

The US Army Corps of Engineers and North Dakota Governor Doug Burgum gave protesters until 2 p.m. But after the Obama administration's decision not to authorize construction on a critical part of the pipeline, most of the camp left.

"We don't know exactly what's inside some of the remaining structures", Iverson said before officers moved into the camp. These protesters face fire hoses in freezing temperatures, rubber police bullets, tear gas, and pepper spray, though North Dakota officials have committed to providing any protesters who want to leave before the deadline the opportunity for a "graceful exit", including transportation to a transition center, medical evaluations, clean clothes, and a hotel stay. Currently, the project is complete, with the exception of the contested portion under North Dakota's Lake Oahe, half a mile upstream from the Standing Rock Sioux tribe's reservation. One fire caused a propane explosion, sending a 7-year-old boy and a 17-year-old girl to a Bismarck hospital for burn treatment.

Iverson: "They told us they weren't going to put up a fight, they were going to be peaceful and engage in passive resistance".

Four people were taken to the state-sponsored travel assistance center Wednesday.

The movement gained traction in August 2016 as thousands of people gathered to protest the Dakota Access Pipeline, the pipeline that, according to protestors and the Sioux tribe, threatens the water supply and sacred lands of native people.

But in January, President Donald Trump issued a directive calling on the Department of the Army and the Army Corps to take all "necessary and appropriate steps" necessary to permit construction and operation of the pipeline, citing the "national interest".

The pipeline's builder, Energy Transfer Partners, has maintained that the pipeline was a safer option than rail and trucks to transport oil. Opponents believe the pipeline will harm the environment.

Several groups including the National Congress of American Indians and the Great Plains Tribal Chairman's Association along with 34 other tribes on Thursday filed a court brief supporting Standing Rock's request.

Alex Redbear and Kateri Eagle Staff embrace during a prayer ceremony at the Oceti Sakowin camp on Monday.

Tom Goldtooth, a protest leader and executive director of the Indigenous Environmental Network, said the demonstrators' hearts were not defeated.

However, when the land was cleared out it was revealed that the protesters - who had shown up to protect the land - had destroyed the land they lived on, leaving behind mountains of trash and human waste.

North Dakota Highway Patrol and other law enforcement set up to the north of the camp entrance on Highway 1806, which continues to be closed to non-emergency traffic.

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