Cannon Ball, N.D.— The following statement from the Standing Rock Sioux’s Tribal Chairman, Dave Archambault II, can be quote in part or in full:
“This past Monday, several councilmembers and myself met with the Governor in the interest of salvaging a professional relationship in what can only be described as the most troubling of times. No matter what happens, this is our home. When the pipeline company is gone; when the water protectors are gone; when all the tribes return to their respective homelands—we will still be here. We need to be mindful of a path forward so that our youth are not treated with increased prejudice, stereotyping, and discrimination.
“The primary goal of the meeting was to arrange removal of the blockade on Backwater Bridge. This blockade has been a serious issue for our people as it cuts us off from the shortest route to major hospitals and other emergency services. The closure has also substantially damaged our reservation economy. Unfortunately, it seems as if this will take at least a few weeks, partially due to the extreme cold and also due to testing that must be done in order to ensure the bridge is still sound enough to bear traffic weight. Depending on the results, the bridge will receive a temporary resurfacing or will be replaced temporarily altogether so that 1806 can reopen.
“It is of the utmost importance for the tribe that this blockade be removed and the bridge be outfitted for reopening. Without it, the winter will be extra harsh, what with the extra time necessary to access medical and other services. We have been significantly impacted by its closure and will continue to suffer the consequences until assessment and repairs are completed. It is for this reason that we met with the Governor—we must work together to protect our community. To those who still have not left the camps I ask you to please respect the bridge testing and repair process and do not mistake outside presence on the bridge as provocation. Rather, we are attempting to repair this most vital throughway in conjunction with the state.”