Standing Rock Sioux Tribe Chairman Dave Archambault II now seems actively opposed to the #NoDAPL movement
Says Dakota Access will not ‘kill our nation’
Takes issue with the phrase ‘water is life’
Wants water protectors to go home or fight the pipeline in Washington
Rumors concerning tribal leadership, law enforcement, and Big Oil have swirled in Standing Rock from the time the first camp broke ground in April to oppose construction of the Dakota Access Pipeline — termed the “black snake” by Native American water protectors.
Fomenting an international movement against the fossil fuel industry, Standing Rock, Dakota Access, and ‘water protector’ have become familiar terms — primarily given the fight to protect water from contamination began with Indigenous peoples but is indisputably universal.
But Something Changed
“This pipeline is not going to kill our nation,” Standing Rock Sioux Tribe Chairman Dave Archambault II now asserts. “This pipeline is not going to destroy America. This one pipeline that everybody’s talking about — this one pipeline where people refuse to leave — this is not gonna be detrimental to our nation.”
Standing Rock Sioux Tribe council recently reaffirmed they would like the camps of water protectors to vacate the land near the Missouri River’s Lake Oahe reservoir; and — though the resolution ostensibly came out of concern for safety in anticipation the spring thaw will inundate the floodplain — the move sparked yet more rumors certain individuals had ‘sold out.’
In fact, anyone keenly familiar with the movement opposing Dakota Access noticed a distinct transition in tone from tribal leadership toward water protectors, particularly over the past two months.
Spending time in Standing Rock recently, The Rock Report became the latest media outlet to walk away with more questions than answers — mostly concerning Archambault and his loyalty to the movement he once championed.
Discussing their interview with the tribal chairman, The Rock Report’s Lydia says they were “quite surprised by some of his answers — and they might even make you question if he is still the correct spokesperson for this movement.”
It Isn’t Over, But You Can’t Stay Here
Asked what importance he still places on continuing the opposition movement, Archambault replies,
“I’m not saying it’s not important …” he responds.
The Rock Report’s Sam interrupts, “You’re asking it to end, no?”
“I’m not asking it to end,” Archambault says emphatically. “I’m saying that the fight is not here. It doesn’t have to be here. We can fight this in Washington.”
Of course, occupying the land near Cannon Ball, North Dakota — in the same area Energy Transfer Partners is set to drill under Lake Oahe — was the entire point and goal of the pipeline opposition movement. Being in place, quasi-permanently, intentionally sends the message to Big Oil and the U.S. government water is inextricably crucial to sustain all life.
Water Is Life … Right?
Mni Wiconi, Water Is Life, has been one of the rallying cries employed by water protectors for that exact reason — but Archambault now calls that vital phrase and others “taglines.”
Startling as that might be to anyone turning to the tribal chairman as a spokesperson for the movement, his statements to The Rock Report reveal a person steadfastly turning his back on the #NoDAPL movement, at least, so long as water protectors remain encamped on treaty territory.
“We can have all the water in the world and we’re not creating a better future for our kids,” Archambault explains.
On the phrase ‘water is life’ — the foundational reason for the pipeline opposition movement — Archambault says,
“Basically, what we’re saying is ‘life is water’ — is, is equal — life is water. I don’t see it that way. I see it as, water is a source of life. It is not life.”
“So no more water protecting to be done?” asks Sam.
“Well, I would say that the purpose has been served,” Archambault replies, “and to be there is putting people’s lives at risk. Let’s start doing things at our home. The purpose has been served.”
The Rock Report’s interview with Dave Archambault II — including counterpoints by another tribe member — must be seen and shared to raise questions about who speaks for the Standing Rock, #NoDAPL movement.
And, more critically, who should not.