Today (Feb. 22) will be everything but a sunny day for the inhabitants of the Standing Rock Reservation. Following the day of love (Feb. 15), North Dakota’s governor Doug Burgum dropped an emergency evacuation bomb, with only one week’s notice, during a press conference inspired by the flood plain-infested land.
But as we know from witnessing the pipeline protests, the Standing Rock natives won’t be giving up that easily. One elderly resident asserts: “They don’t understand people are willing to die here. 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.”
This known fact isn’t intimidating the authorities. Morton County Police moved closer to the camp’s south gate to set up a roadblock following the governor’s press conference. But in the same instance, the Army Corp of Engineers offered residents assistance in cleaning up. One of the Corp’s officials said: “The goal here is that we work together to clean the camp and then everyone leave the area peacefully and go some place safe.”
Despite the geographical threat that the governor claims as his basis for the emergency evacuation, the residents of the reservation already consider their homes peaceful and safe with sacred burial grounds and spiritual sites located throughout. This reservation was initially guaranteed to Sioux Tribes in the 1868 Fort Laramie Treaty and now these same tribes have to fight for something that was already promised to them.
The Army Corps of Engineers have the permission and authority, as of 2 p.m. today, to request assistance to remove people for trespassing. From there, they are allowed to issue citations accompanied by fines of up to $5,000 and up to six months in prison.
Having their sacred hills and islands barricaded by snowmobiles, a resident attempts to express the authorities’ intimidation in the best way he knew how: “We’re going to come in no matter what, we’re going to raid.”