Native American women at Standing Rock deliver powerful message as final deadline to evacuate looms

After more than a year of protests and mixed outcomes in court battles, demonstrators at the Standing Rock Sioux Reservation in North Dakota have been ordered by Governor Doug Burgum to evacuate their camp site to allow construction to move forward by 2 pm local time today.

But Native American women at the protest site made a video this week to send a message of defiance even as the deadline approaches and law enforcement officers surround the Oceti Sakowin camp.

“In the history of colonization they’ve always given us two options. Give up our land or go to jail. Give up our rights or go to jail. And now, give up our water or go to jail,” one woman says in the video. “We are not criminals. We’re mothers. We’re sisters.”

The video ends with a final plea for supporters to come to the camp: “They’ve been trying to take us down for hundreds of years. And they can keep trying, and we’re still going to be here, and we need help. There aren’t many of us left.”

The company building the Dakota Access Pipeline, Energy Transfer Partners, got the final go-ahead to complete their controversial project after President Donald Trump signed an executive order last month paving the way for the final piece of construction to be approved by the Army Corps. of Engineers.

Standing Rock Sioux Chairman David Archambault II has said that his tribe will continue to fight the pipeline in court even after its completion.

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