SRST Chairman Dave Archambault II discusses President Trump's DAPL order and more
Standing Rock Sioux Tribe Chairman Dave Archambault discussed today's DAPL executive order and much more.
(Please note - this transcript was copied from an electronic captioning service. We apologize for any errors, spelling, grammatical, or otherwise.)
Joining us live from our studio in Bismarck is the Standing Rock Tribal Chairman Dave Archambault. Thank you for your time. I want to get your initial reaction to the news on president trump signing this executive memoranda to help expedite the completion of the Dakota Access Pipeline.
Yeah, it's frustrating because we worked so hard to get where we are today and we were able to get something that we have been asking for, for the past two years and that was the government to agree to the environmental statement to the location. The reason we wanted to do that is because we want to share all the wrongs that are committed to our people, throughout the history -- the history and wrongs that have been committed and throughout this country for centuries, we have been paying for economic development, we have been paying for energy independence and we have been paying for national security. And there's acts by congress and by the united states that have done that to us and what it has left us in is in a state of dependency and high poverty. And so through this history and the knowledge that we have, you know, we were able to share the wrongs that have been committed and convince the last administration that we need to pump on the brakes and take a closer look at this. It was a huge opportunity for us last week. And I just disappointed in the new president for not even reaching out before he made this decision. And I’m disappointed in Congressman Cramer for pushing the issue when he knows there are a lot of local things that we're trying to address. And this compounds everything now.
Local things meaning what specifically, sir?
Well, you know, we have a lot of visitors from out of state who are supporting the tribe, and we've been working so hard to address some of the flood concerns and open up our -- the bridge that is blockaded by law enforcement. We were getting to the point we felt comfortable to open the bridge and where we felt our community, our membership was saying it's time for the people visiting to go home. And so we were getting somewhere. And with the urgency and the hasty decision being made today, that does not help and it's not taking the consideration of what myself and the new governor has been working on the past few weeks.
I want to get to that, you say this is a hasty decision that has been going on for quite some time. Let's talk about the people down there now, do you have a plan in place with the governor, with our current congressional delegation to remove these protesters from the camps?
No, there was never a plan to remove the protesters. What we were doing was trying to help them understand what they were doing to mother earth and ask them to voluntarily leave, and we didn't sit down with the governor, didn't sit down with the federal government, we didn't sit down with anybody to ask for their assistance to remove anybody. We were just trying to come up with a way to clean the area and relocate the campers if they were there or ask them to leave. So we were working on that. But today, things changed and we're always going to have to explore our options as the saga evolves.
Cody Two Bears is a member of your council has asked for federal law enforcement for help to remove protesters. Would you be willing to ask federal law enforcement to remove people for safety and security?
Cody is a councilman of our tribe and this is something the membership of his community was asking for because they were concerned for their safety if they made this decision. But the important thing is just trying to work with everybody and build relationships, positive relationships with everybody and as they evolves, everything changes.
Would you be a proponent of having more BIA officers on the ground?
We had more BIA officers on the ground since this whole thing started. That was something I requested from day one. If you understood what was happening, and that's the problem is nobody really understands. If you understood what was going on prior to all of this, we had the federal resources that came to Standing Rock for law enforcement was minimal. We had eight officers total to police an area the size of Connecticut. So eight of them. They can't all work at the same time. So when this thing started, I said we need more officers to make sure the communities throughout our nation are safe.
So then why not ask more BIA officers to come in via our congressional delegation?
There are more officers on Standing Rock today and that was because of the request I made when this whole thing started.
Let me ask you this, sir. I assume you guys are going to plug this up in the courts. You had Obama. He did not follow your injunction. Appeals court didn't either. Let's assume this thing gets green lit. What I want to know from you is how do you turn this situation into a win? You and I both know Donald Trump is a deal maker. How do you agree to the Trump administration and work a deal with him so you, your tribal nation and all tribal nations across this great nation get a win out of this situation?
Well, you know, I never have tried to negotiate anything. You know, I always felt that the location of the pipeline was the wrong place and I still believe that today because it puts the expense of the destroy, the oil industry, on our people. This pipeline is 500 feet away from our nation. And when it breaks, we are going to be the first people and the only people that are impacted by this. Why do we have to pay for this?
Sir, you and I both know that's speculation, your water up take has been moved farther south so it won't have immediate impact on the water. I'm not trying to denigrate that. Here's what Congressman Cramer just said, I spoke to chairman Archambault several months ago, I told him not to squander his political capital so he can get something out of this and get something good for your nation. That's my question, let's be honest, you guys put a lot of chips on the table assuming Hillary Clinton was going to win. How do you now change your tone, go to the Trump administration and extract something out of this for you and your tribe and tribal nations?
I don't think it's a matter of squandering any political chips. What we've been doing is building awareness about the wrongs done to indigenous people throughout history. Our lands were taken from us for economic development. Our Black Hills were taken for gold in 1877. In 1908, with the -- our lands were taken for economic development, our agriculture, so people can settle within our boundaries and our land was taken. In 1944 the flood control act came and took our precious river bottom lands because of energy independence. We're hydro electricity powered. Now, here's another example where pipeline is going to impact us, regardless if it -- it's still going to impact the environment around us, impact our heritage, impact our culture and people. Aware the first people of this nation and we should have a right and a say and we were never given an opportunity. So we're going to continue to express that concern.
Thank you, sir. Obviously what happened in the history, how can we look forward? Because I do want to acknowledge, sir, you had the most tribal nations together since the Battle of Little Big Horn. That was a tremendous opportunity here for us to acknowledge tribal nations and make an impact for your communities. Let's talk about this. Many people are saying that I’m talking to is that state and tribal relations are going through challenges right now, might be a nice way to say it and I hear it from a lot of people across the state. What I want to know from you, when you hear that, many people are saying I’d like to see Standing Rock stand up and take responsibility for the protests taking place, my question is, when you look at $22 million of law enforcement costs, I’m assuming that you think there has been some responsibility of the protesters here with that, would standing rock be willing to step up and help pay for some of those law enforcement costs?
First of all, the behavior of the federal government and the state government is not our responsibility. What they do is on their dime. What we've done was we just tried to build aware -- just tried to build awareness and there have been people that came and supported and not ones have we asked any, they came on their own, because they believe this is a worthy cause. The state and tribal relations are going to continue to build. There are a lot of people throughout the state who have friends that are Native American. And they understand, we're not in this for our own. We're looking out for the future. And the future is not only going to benefit us, it's going to benefit tribal nations across the world.
I don't mean to cut you off, sir --
My question, sir, do you see that Standing Rock Sioux Tribe has any responsibility in this whatsoever?
So what we did was we came out and we said there are wrongs. Does this nation take any responsibility for stealing our lands, does this nation take any responsibility for taking our treaty lands or taking the black hills from us. You're asking me a question that you're telling me that I need to commit to and I’m not going to commit to that when I know there have been billions, maybe trillions of dollars made off of the lands that were illegally taken from us in the 1868 treaty. In1918 77, there's a history here. And the cost that we continue to pay is not fair. And people forget, we were here and we're still here and we're not going anywhere.
Chairman I’m not saying what happened on those days was right, I’m asking if you're willing to look at an olive branch. We've got to wrap it up there. I appreciate your time. I know this conversation is not over, we'd love to have you back.
Okay. Thanks Chris.