Environment

North Dakota Governor Orders an Emergency Evacuation of Standing Rock

On Monday, North Dakota Governor Jack Dalrymple ordered protesters against the Dakota Access pipeline to immediately evacuate their main encampment at Standing Rock, citing “harsh winter conditions” and noting the area is "not zoned for dwellings suitable for living in winter conditions,” Reuters reports. 

According to Reuters, the executive order said:

"Winter conditions have the potential to endanger human life, especially when they are exposed to these conditions without proper shelter, dwellings, or sanitation for prolonged periods of time."

As The Guardian reports, "Thousands of Native American and environmental activists have gathered at the encampment, which is on Army Corps land just north of the Standing Rock Sioux Reservation and close to the site where the Dakota Access pipeline is slated to cross under the Missouri river."

ATTN: spoke to Jolie Varela, an enrolled member of the Tule River Yokut Tribe and one of the Standing Rock protesters, who identify themselves as peaceful water protectors.

She says protesters are staying put. 

“Winter seems harsh and daunting, but our community is ready to do anything for each other,” said Varela, who helps procure supplies for demonstrators. “We’re all in this together — no one is going to be left in the cold.”

In regards to how the water protectors are preparing for the winter conditions, Varela said they are setting up structures with stoves, chopping wood, and installing insulation.

“Our people lived in structures like these for hundred of years and we can do it for one winter,” said Varela.

As ATTN: has written, "The Standing Rock Sioux Tribe and its allies argue that the pipeline, which will stretch across four states (North Dakota, South Dakota, Iowa, and Illinois), is allegedly being constructed in violation of the National Historic Preservation Act. There are also concerns that the pipeline will contaminate water supplies and harm sacred sites."

As for the intention behind Dalrymple’s order for an emergency evacuation, Varela said: "They are not at all concerned about the health of the people — they are concerned about money," said Varela. "This is just another scare tactic they're using to try to get us out of there and to discourage people from showing up."

Cecily Fong, spokeswoman for the North Dakota department of emergency services told The Guardian, “We will not be using law enforcement or national guard to enforce the order."

On Friday, the Army Corps of Engineers made a similar order to the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe to leave their camps. Last week, police officers reportedly deployed tear gas, rubber bullets, and fire hoses against the nonviolent protesters.

ATTN: reached out to Governor Dalrymple's office for comment and will update this story with their response.

Featured Image:AP/Alex Milan Tracy