Bureau of Indian Affairs issues 'trespass' notice to #NoDAPL camp

The humble beginnings of the Sacred Stone Camp in April 2016. The efforts of LaDonna Brave Bull Allard and Native youth turned the fight against the Dakota Access Pipeline into a worldwide phenomenon. Photo: Camp of the Sacred Stone

The Bureau of Indian Affairs is moving to evict the original #NoDAPL encampment at the direction of the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe.

LaDonna Brave Bull Allard, a tribal citizen, established the Sacred Stone Camp on her allotment on the North Dakota portion of the reservation in April 2016. The tribal council was aware of it, and supported the move at the time, according to an account she provided at a recent #NoDAPL forum.

But the tribe, which also owns an interest in what is described as the Lean Warrior Allotment, has since changed course. Citing financial and other challenges in dealing with the thousands of people who have come to and from Standing Rock over recent months, the council concluded that it can no longer host opponents of the Dakota Access Pipeline.

"One of the key tenets of any movement is being considerate about how we treat the community in which we bring our voices and respect the places where we are visitors. The community of Cannonball has every right to choose how it wants people to help them," the tribe said in a February 4 statement. The Lean Warrior Allotment, or Allotment 2275-B, is located in the Cannonball District of the reservation.

Officers from the Bureau of Indian Affairs are seen presenting a notice of trespass to LaDonna Brave Bull Allard and her husband regarding the presence of the Sacred Stone Camp on the Standing Rock Sioux Reservation in North Dakota. Photo: Standing Rock Rising

Allard blasted the shift that same day on her camp's website. She said neither the council, nor the BIA, have a right to "evict me from my homeland."

"The Indigenous nations of Turtle Island had united as never before," Allard wrote of the movement that swept across Indian Country last year. "But as division grows, it is very difficult to see a path forward."

A couple of days later, Allard scaled back her criticism of both the tribe and the BIA after she said both appeared willing to work with her on various issues. "Our enemy is not ourselves but the Black Snake," she wrote on Facebook on February 6.

But allies are now rushing to her side after the BIA delivered a notice of "trespass" to Allard. The document, which was dated February 15 and signed by Sheila White Mountain, the superintendent of the Standing Rock Agency, states that the tribe has not approved of the camp's presence on the allotment.

From left: Robert Taken Alive, council member for the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe; Jackie Pata, executive director of the National Congress of American Indians; Eryn Wise of the International Indigenous Youth Council; LaDonna Brave Bull Allard of Sacred Stone Camp; and Brian Bowers, a citizen of the Cherokee Nation, at a #NoDAPL forum at George Washington University in Washington, D.C., on November 16, 2016. Photo by Indianz.Com / Available for use under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 4.0 International License

"As a majority owner, the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe must consent to any permit or lease which authorizes possession or occupancy of this land," the notice, a copy of which was shared on Facebook, states. "At present, the Standing Rock Agency has received no authorization from the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe that would allow individuals to take possession or occupy this property."

According to the BIA, the tribe holds a 66.67 percent interest in the allotment but there are other owners, at least five but no more than nine others. Multiple owners of Indian allotments are common as the land become fractionated through successive generations of ownership.

Based on a section of the U.S. Code cited in the letter, a lease or agreement on an allotment that has between six and 10 owners requires the consent of 80 percent of the owners. The notice takes the position that the threshold hasn't been reached because of the tribe's stance on Sacred Stone.

"No Indian owner of Allotment 2275-B may authorize a third party, who does not own an interest in the property, permission to take possession or occupy without consent from at least 80 percent ownership interest in the property," the document states.

The BIA is giving anyone 10 days to "show cause" why they think the notice has been issued in error. The notice itself cannot be appealed, according to the document.

But in the event the agency issues a "finding of trespass," that decision can be appealed, the notice states.

LaDonna Brave Bull Allard addresses the #NoDAPL Day of Action rally outside of the White House in Washington, D.C., on November 15, 2016. Photo by Indianz.Com / Available for use under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 4.0 International License

Copies were handed out at Sacred Stone on Thursday, according to videos broadcast on Facebook. The move came as shock to residents and visitors, many of whom believed their presence was secure even after the tribe decided it couldn't host people who were living at Oceti Sakowin, a much larger #NoDAPL camp. At one point, the Cannonball District was offering a place for them until the change in course earlier this year.

Oceti Sakowin, or Seven Council Fires, is located on land managed by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers. Although it falls within territory promised to the Sioux Nation by treaty, the agency has called for its removal.

Organizers, residents and other activists have been cleaning up the site in anticipation of flooding in the spring. Those efforts have been proceeding smoothly, Chairman Dave Archambault II said on Wednesday.

"I think the Creator is blessing us," Archambault told attendees of the winter session of the National Congress of American Indians in Washington, D.C. After a harsh December and January, he said warmer than expected temperatures have prevented the buildup of ice, and that should lessen the effects of flooding.

"We're doing everything we can to clean the area because we don't want to be the contaminators of the Missouri River," he said.

Standing Rock leaders, including Archambault, have embraced the #NoDAPL campsites as a sign of the worldwide movement against the Dakota Access Pipeline. During a public forum in Washington, D.C., on November 16, 2016, Allard said she informed the tribal council about her plans for Sacred Stone and received encouragement.

Robert Taken Alive, a council member who represents the Little Eagle District, also appeared on the panel, which took place at George Washington University on the day after a successful rally and march to the White House. He did not dispute Allard's account of the origins of Sacred Stone and noted that he helped welcome delegations from other tribal nations to the encampments last summer.

"Again, it comes to peace and prayer," Taken Alive said of the fight against the pipeline.

The tribe is hoping to stall the pipeline through legal action. A motion filed on Tuesday seeks to set aside the Trump administration's approval of the final portion of the controversial project.

Standing Rock is also backing a request for an injunction sought by the Cheyenne River Sioux Tribe. A hearing takes place in federal court in D.C. on February 28.

Federal Register Notice:
Notice of Termination of the Intent To Prepare an Environmental Impact Statement in Connection With Dakota Access, LLC's Request for an Easement To Cross Lake Oahe, North Dakota (February 17, 2017)

Prior Federal Register Notice:
Notice of Intent To Prepare an Environmental Impact Statement in Connection With Dakota Access, LLC's Request for an Easement To Cross Lake Oahe, North Dakota (January 18, 2017)

Dakota Access Pipeline Approval Documents:
Department of Justice Notice | Department of the Army Approval Memorandum | Notice of Termination of EIS for Dakota Access Pipeline | Easement Letter to Congressional Leadership

White House Documents:
Presidential Memorandum Regarding Construction of the Dakota Access Pipeline (January 24, 2017)
Presidential Memorandum Regarding Construction of the Keystone XL Pipeline (January 24, 2017)
Executive Order Expediting Environmental Reviews and Approvals For High Priority Infrastructure Projects (January 24, 2017)
Presidential Memorandum Regarding Construction of American Pipelines (January 24, 2017)
Presidential Memorandum Streamlining Permitting and Reducing Regulatory Burdens for Domestic Manufacturing (January 24, 2017)
Press Release: President Trump Takes Action to Expedite Priority Energy and Infrastructure Projects (January 24, 2017)

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