Standing Rock Sioux Chairman Dave Archambault was arrested Friday afternoon at a protest rally where the Dakota Access Pipeline is headed toward the Missouri River just north of the reservation boundary.
Archambault was booked into the Morton County Jail and released on bond late afternoon. He was charged with disorderly conduct for pushing back on a police line formed when protestors tried to prevent pipeline workers from leaving the site. Tribal councilman Dana Yellow Fat was also arrested Friday as were four others who attempted to block pipeline workers trying to reach the work site early this morning.
Morton County Sheriff Kyle Kirchmeier said a total of 18 men and women have been arrested over the two-day protest, most for disorderly conduct, and two for a more serious charge of criminal trespass.
Protesters also surged toward the pipeline when word spread through the crowd that human bones had been uncovered by pipeline workers. Tribal historian and protest organizer LaDonna Brave Bull Allard confirmed that no human remains were found, though it’s possible what was found will be investigated as a cultural site though it is not on the reservation.
Kirchmeier said Friday’s number of protesters appeared to be about the same as Thursday, when some 225-250 people gathered alongside Highway 1806 to sing, pray and draw attention to the pipeline. They fear it will rupture and contaminate their water, downstream water and disrupt sacred sites. Pipeline construction started in late May but it was only this week that it moved onto location near the reservation where it will be bored very near the confluence of the Missouri and Cannonball rivers.
The protesters were joined Thursday by Shailene Woodley, the heroine of a major movie series Divergent, a futuristic film based in an apocalyptic world. Woodley said she shares worries about clean and available water and has been involved in the Standing Rock protest since February. She helped with the protest petition delivered to Washington, D.C., ran two days with the petition runners and told the Bismarck Tribune she plans to stay with the cause until “they (Dakota Access) pack up and leave. I stand in solidarity with these people.”
Archambault and the tribal council have sued the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers in federal district court, seeking an injunction that will be heard Aug. 24. The tribe hopes to delay the project for an expanded environmental review. The corps issued easements for two Missouri River crossings after conducting a less rigorous Environmental Assessment.
Archambault was unavailable for comment.
The pipeline will be an underground artery of Bakken crude, pulsing nearly a half-million barrels daily from the oil patch to near Chicago. The 1,100-mile delivery will pass through North Dakota and South Dakota, Iowa and Illinois.
Pipeline organizers say the number of protesters will keep growing and they expect busloads from regional reservations to join them in coming days.