At a press conference alongside the North Dakota State Highway Patrol and the Morton County Sheriff’s Department, Gov. Jack Dalrymple announced that the North Dakota National Guard will be activated to assist local law enforcement at the Dakota Access Pipeline protests south of Mandan in Morton County.
The Governor said the decision was made “out of an abundance of caution” in order to free up law enforcement to patrol the area, while armed guardsmen will be posted at a checkpoint along Highway 1806. That highway was previously closed because of protest activity in the area. About 100 guardsmen from the 191st Military Police Company will also be on standby alert.
The decision comes at the same time members of Native American tribes and nations gather in Bismarck at a yearly powwow to celebrate Native American heritage and traditions at the United Tribes Technical College. Thousands of members of Native American communities from across the Great Plains are expected to attend.
Following the Governor’s announcement, MAIN Coalition spokesman Craig Stevens issued the following statement:
“Due to the emotionally charged and escalating atmosphere surrounding the Dakota Access Pipeline, we agree with Governor Dalrymple’s decision to activate the National Guard to help maintain a peaceful environment. Protesters should be able to peaceably convene, however individuals should also be able to conduct their work in a safe and harassment-free environment.
The pipeline is sited along a long-utilized energy corridor that has undergone significant construction over the past few decades and of which state archeologists issued a ‘no significant sites affected’ determination several months ago. The pipeline will not cross into the Standing Rock Sioux’s reservation and, once operational, will be among the safest, most technologically advanced pipelines ever constructed.”