Last week, native activists took the bold action of declaring eminent domain over their traditional territory and set up a new camp “Front-Line” camp directly in the pipeline’s path. Pipeline opponents say they have simply reclaimed the land under the Fort Laramie Treaty of 1851, clearly noting the Sioux never ceded that territory. The new encampment lies across Highway 1806, where pipeline security guards armed with guard dogs and pepper spray attacked protestors attempting to stop the bulldozing of cultural sites and burial grounds on September 3.
The impending crisis comes after nearly 200 water protectors set up the new camp on land that Energy Transfer Partners last month purchased from a local rancher in an effort to bolster strategic and tactical control of areas surrounding construction of the controversial pipeline.
According to the AP, however, the Native Americans claim the land is theirs by way of an “1851 treaty and they won’t leave until the pipeline is stopped.” “We never ceded this land,” said protester Joye Braun.
This latest flashpoint in the ongoing conflict is north of the larger and more permanent encampments, which have been constructed on federally owned land where over 200 Native American tribes have gathered to oppose the pipeline’s construction.
On Wednesday, a heavily militarized law enforcement presence began mobilizing heavy equipment, including Humvees, armored personnel carriers, buses and demanded the protestors leave the occupied area.
In an ominous sign, the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) has restricted flights, and banned the use of drones within a radius of about 4 ½ miles of Cannon Ball. The FAA declared that only aircraft affiliated with the North Dakota Tactical Operation Center are allowed within the restricted airspace. The flight restriction went into effect Wednesday and will last until November 5.