Army Corps Issues Eviction Notice to Standing Rock Sioux Tribe

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A round-dance had just started to form at the center of the Oceti Sakowin Camp as men in puffy Carhart overalls dug their electric drills into wide sheets of plywood. Beneath a sky where stars competed to shine against the persistent glow of high-beams used by police, workers at the camp moved fast to install a roof atop a modest structure.

It was the first time crews had toiled away into the evening hours building dwellings meant to sustain the onslaught of a North Dakota winter. That it was taking place only hours after an eviction notice had been issued by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers seemed deliberate.

“If the Army Corps wants to come here and clear things out, so be it,” said Paul Sherlock, 55. The Cleveland, Ohio man arrived on election night. Since then, he said, he has donated nearly $30,000 in building materials to help winterize the camp.

Sherlock’s resistance to the Dakota Access pipeline is not unlike the reasoning of thousands of others determined to brace colder temperatures and intensified clashes with police.

“Social-justice-wise, environmentally-wise, we have to change our ways, and if we don’t change our ways, there’s going to be a lot of suffering,” he said.

That suffering could come sooner than expected. On Friday, Colonel John Henderson with the Army Corps’ Omaha District issued a letter to Standing Rock Sioux Tribal Chairman Dave Archambault II. It was an eviction notice with a timestamp for Monday, December 5.

“Pursuant to C.F.R. 327.12, I am closing the portion of Corps-managed federal property north of the Cannon Ball River to all public use and access,” Henderson wrote.

“I do not take this action lightly but have decided that it is required due to the concern for public safety.”

Valerie Taliman
The Oceti Sakowin Camp has been issued an eviction notice by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers.

Since this summer, thousands of indigenous people and their allies opposed to the $3.8 billion, 1,172-mile-long Dakota Access pipeline have journeyed to the borderland of the Standing Rock Sioux Reservation, staking teepees and tents along the confluence of the Cannon Ball and Missouri Rivers. The property, managed by the Corps, is ancestral Treaty land of the Great Sioux Nation. Until Friday the Corps had permitted Standing Rock Sioux tribal members and their supporters to occupy the plot — an area that the federal agency has leased for private grazing or haying purposes in the past.