Anyone who remained at the Oceti Sakowin Camp outside Standing Rock, North Dakota, in protest of the Dakota Access Pipeline faced arrest as of 2 p.m. CT today (February 22). Water protectors, who remained at the site despite the state’s harsh winter, received notice on February 15 that they’d have to evacuate the area per Governor Doug Burgum’s order.
While many individuals, including volunteers and water protectors gathered their belongings and helped to clear out the camp, others vowed to remain there in defiance of the state’s orders. According to a live Facebook video independent journalist Jon Ziegler posted, at 2 CT, surveillance planes began circling over people still at the camp and those who had retreated to a nearby highway to avoid arrest.
In that same video, Ziegler reported that law enforcement arrived at 2:30 and announced that anyone on the highway was also subject to arrest. Police, says independent news outlet Unicorn Riot and others on the scene, began arresting people around 4, including journalists. At 4:30, independent news outlet Unicorn Riot reported at least six arrests.
Here is one of the latest videos on what is happening, per Unicorn Riot:
People in camp prepared for the evacuation in ceremony by lighting their remaining structures on fire. The fires were a sign of respect for the water protectors’ former dwellings, according to Indigenous Rising Media.
Per the Indigenous-run media group:
[B]ased on the behavior of the law enforcement in the past, who during raids have broken and thrown away sacred items and who have shown disregard and horrible disrespect to tipis and sacred dwellings, it is best to burn these scared structures instead of having them desecrated by Morton County and North Dakota law enforcement.
Lighting our dwellings on fire is a sign of respect for them. It’s a sign of respect for the purpose they have served over these past few months. They have been containers for prayer and for brining people together. By lighting them on fire we send their smoke up like prayers. By lighting them on fire we ensure these structures go out in dignity.
Other ceremonies took place throughout the day, including prayerful songs, walks and last huddles around the central fire. Meanwhile, another group including Sacred Stone Camp founder LaDonna Brave Bull Allard gathered on a nearby hilltop near a piece of art titled “Not Afraid to Look” and prayed for people below.
For updates on what is happening at Standing Rock, follow live feeds from journalist Jenni Monet on Facebook and Unicorn Riot on Facebook and Twitter. Updates are also coming from the Facebook pages of the Indigenous Environmental Network’s Dallas Goldtooth and Kandi Mossett.