In his first State of the State address, North Dakota Gov. Doug Burgum warned Tuesday of potential danger to protesters and first responders if Dakota Access Pipeline opponents don’t vacate a camp in southern Morton County. “Chairman Dave Archambault from the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe has repeatedly asked for the remaining protesters to leave. We unequivocally support him in this request,” Burgum said. The federal government previously asked protesters to leave in a letter to Standing Rock officials late last fall.
The camp, which was illegally constructed on a managed by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, is likely to flood following the winter thaw this spring. Furthermore, Burgum said cleaning up the area, which is currently littered with abandoned cars, illegal structures and human waste, will be essential to mitigating potential environmental damage.
Building off efforts by former Gov. Jack Dalrymple, Burgum also pledged to deescalate tensions with tribal nations, including upcoming meetings with each tribe in the coming week. “Our goal is to understand each tribe’s individual issues and circumstances so that we may move forward together toward greater mutual respect, harmony and prosperity,” he said.
At the same time, Burgum made clear that enforcing the rule of law and protecting area residents will remain a priority. “Peaceful protest is a protected right of all Americans,” Burgum said. “However, protesters must respect private property rights, court orders and law enforcement personnel. Acts of vandalism, harassment and trespass are not a part of North Dakota’s character and will not be tolerated.”
The MAIN Coalition applauds Gov. Burgum’s continued interest in the peaceful completion of the Dakota Access Pipeline, and remains thankful for former Gov. Dalrymple’s leadership during challenging times.