Demonstrators chant as they gather in front of the White House on Sept. 13 to protest the Dakota Access Pipeline. (Jim Watson/AFP/Getty Images)
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After a unanimous vote Friday, leaders of the Standing Rock Sioux tribe issued a statement asking all Dakota Access Pipeline protestors to vacate their camps by Jan. 30 and to cancel plans for a winter camp. The tribal council is prepared to ask federal law enforcement to help aid in the evacuation, their Facebook statement adds.
Protestors had taken up residence in the District of Cannon Ball, North Dakota, located near construction sites for the Dakota Access Pipeline, a 1,000-mile underground oil pipeline that some native groups and protestors feel poses an environmental threat. A group organized on the Standing Rock Indian Reservation successfully sued for an injunction to halt construction, and a protest at the site during that process garnered worldwide attention.
The vote Friday was to support the District of Cannon Ball, where some of the protestors of the Dakota Access Pipeline have been living for as long as six months. Cannon Ball residents are reportedly frustrated with the closure of an essential bridge that is the main route to work and hospital services, as well as the state of the Cannon Ball gym, which has been used as an emergency shelter for protesters. There's also been growing concern over alcohol and drug use believed to be tied to the camps.
"All the individuals at all the camps in and around Cannon Ball need to leave the district," residents wrote in a 10-point resolution passed during an executive session of a district meeting Wednesday night. "The building of an alternative site for the camp(s) within the Cannon Ball District is not needed or wanted. If there is to be any kind of a 'site' for the commemoration of this historic event that took place with all the tribes, the people of Standing Rock need to vote on where, what and cost before any 'shanty town is built.'"
The decision by the tribe comes after they won a decisive victory in December that halted construction of a pipeline slated to be built near their reservation. The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers called for a more complete environmental analysis of a dammed section of the Missouri River before it agrees to allow Energy Transfer Partners to continue building it's $3.8 billion pipeline over tribal concerns that the pipeline could rupture and contaminate the water. The tribes further say the pipeline "threatens the Tribe's environmental and economic well-being, and would damage and destroy sites of great historic, religious, and cultural significance to the Tribe."
In the wake of that decision, Standing Rock Tribal Chairman Dave Archambault asked protesters to return home as the winter storms moved in and the issue transitioned from a protest to a legal battle.
President Donald Trump, who signed a executive order Tuesday aimed at restarting construction on both the Dakota Access Pipeline and the hotly contested Keystone XL Pipeline, has not responded specifically to the Army Corps of Engineers mandate requesting an environmental impact assessment.
Without getting specific and citing a desire not to get in front of what the president might ultimately do, White House press secretary Sean Spicer said Monday that he thought Trump may attempt to overrule that decision.
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