According to a report from the Free Thought Project, on Thursday, the Standing Rock Sioux Tribal Council voted to shut down the Sacred Stone Camp and upped the pressure on other protesters to provide plans for cleaning up the area. A decision that could not be more appropriate given the harsh weather conditions in the area and the potential for Spring flooding that is expected once the season changes.
In addition to voting to shut the camp down, the Council noted they will use the several million dollars in funds that were donated for the camp’s support to pay off tribal debt. It begs the question, what debt will they be using the funds which were sent in to support illegal protest activity against a lawfully permitted project?
While there was dissension regarding the shuttering of the camp, the decision is the right one. At a time when nearly 40% of individuals and families living on the Standing Rock Sioux Reservation live below the poverty line according to data from the U.S. Census Bureau, those funds would be better spent providing and maintaining resources on the reservation – not further supporting illegal protest activity that could put people into harm’s way if the weather turns.
Tribal Chairman Dave Archambault II stated in the meeting that the camps have rampant health and hygiene issues and must be shut down. Archambault, addressing rumors he and other leaders had simply taken donation money for themselves stated, “[w]e’re not sitting around taking donations,” “but when it comes to the tribe, this council is accountable and responsible for the members it represents — fiscally responsible. So, we’ve always been transparent, whenever resources come to the tribe.”
The report highlights a growing rift between members of the tribe who wish for the protests to end and those that want to continue.