Others’ Opinions: Dakota Access declare victory and go home

Published 10:26 am Thursday, December 8, 2016

The Mankato Free Press

Distributed by Tribune Content Agency

This is the first rule of winter in the Northern Plains: It can kill you.

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And it would be a shame if, having won the immediate battle over the Dakota Access pipeline, the protesters who have massed this year near the Standing Rock Indian Reservation in the name of protecting the Lake Oahe reservoir let their victory become tragedy.

The blizzard that blew through the protesters camp this week wasn’t the first dose of harsh weather, and it won’t be the last. But while it may have been necessary last week to risk frostbite, hypothermia or worse for the cause, it isn’t now.

In media interviews after the Army Corps of Engineers denied the permit to run the disputed pipeline through the reservoir, Standing Rock Tribal Chairman Dave Archambault urged activists who had come from out of town to return home, saying their “purpose has been served.”

Protester mistrust of the incoming administration on the issue is understandable, even correct. President-elect Donald Trump has vowed to support pipelines such as this one. And Kelcy Warren, CEO of Energy Transfer Partners, the pipeline builder, has been a major contributor to the Republican Party and Trump’s campaign. So the permit denial is unlikely to be the final word on the matter.

But in the meantime, Archambault has it right: “It’s an opportunity for (the protesters) to spend this winter, and if they celebrate holidays, to spend the holidays with their families,” he told KFGO. “I know their families are yearning for them to come home.”