Demonstrators near the site of the Dakota Access pipeline braced for a showdown with authorities on Wednesday, as protest leaders said at least some would defy a deadline to abandon the camp they have occupied for months to halt the project.
Native Americans and environmental activists have said the multibillion-dollar pipeline threatens the water resources and sacred land of the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe, but President Donald Trump has quickly pushed for the completion of the pipeline since taking office last month.
Governor Doug Burgum and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers set a deadline of Wednesday afternoon for demonstrators to leave the Oceti Sakowin camp, located on Army Corps land in Cannon Ball, North Dakota. Despite the deadline, some will remain, camp leaders said on Tuesday.
ARRESTS IMMINENT FOR THOSE WHO REMAIN?
From Protect Mother Earth
Standing Rock: Pope appears to back Dakota pipeline Protesters
Pope Francis appeared on Wednesday to back Native Americans seeking to halt part of the Dakota Access Pipeline, saying indigenous cultures have a right to defend “their ancestral relationship to the earth”.
The Latin American pope, who has often strongly defended indigenous rights since his election in 2013, made his comments on protection of native lands to representative of tribes attending the Indigenous Peoples Forum in Rome.
While he did not name the pipeline, he used strong and clear language applicable to the conflict, saying development had to be reconciled with “the protection of the particular characteristics of indigenous peoples and their territories”.
Francis spoke two days after a U.S. federal judge denied a request by tribes to halt construction of the final link of the project that sparked months of protests by activists aimed at stopping the 1,170-mile line.
Speaking in Spanish, Francis said the need to protect native territories was “especially clear when planning economic activities which may interfere with indigenous cultures and their ancestral relationship to the earth”.
The Standing Rock Sioux and Cheyenne River Sioux tribes have argued the project would prevent them from practicing religious ceremonies at a lake they say is surrounded by sacred ground.
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