Photo: AP/Blake Nicholson
People push belongings up a hill at the Dakota Access pipeline opponents' main protest camp in southern North Dakota near Cannon Ball, N.D., on Wednesday, Feb. 22, 2017, as authorities prepared to shut down the camp in advance of spring flooding season.
September 28, 2017 10:59 AM
Standing Rock Sioux Chairman Dave Archambault, who has been the face and voice of the Dakotas tribe during its long and futile attempt to block the four-state Dakota Access pipeline, has lost his bid for re-election.
Unofficial results from Wednesday's general tribal election showed that Dave Archambault received only 37 percent of about 1,700 votes cast. His opponent, longtime tribal councilman and wildlife official Mike Faith, received 63 percent.
Archambault conceded defeat in a statement Thursday.
"I will continue to advocate for the issues facing our community and look forward to exploring new opportunities," he said. "I wish the new administration the best and look forward to a smooth transition, ensuring that we do not lose the powerful momentum we have at Standing Rock."
The tribe opposed the $3.8 billion pipeline built by Texas-based Energy Transfer Partners over fears it would harm cultural sites and the tribe's Missouri River water supply - claims rejected by ETP. Protests failed to stop the pipeline, and it began moving North Dakota oil through South Dakota and Iowa to a distribution point in Illinois on June 1. The Standing Rock and three other Sioux tribes are still fighting the pipeline in federal court.
A protest camp on federal land just north of the reservation and near the area where the pipeline skirted tribal land drew hundreds and sometimes thousands of pipeline opponents, some of whom clashed with police. There were 761 arrests between August and February.
Archambault earlier this year called for the large camp and other smaller camps in the area to disband before the spring flooding season, upsetting some tribal members.
Faith said he's not sure how big of an issue that was in the campaign. The reservation has numerous other problems that need addressing, from a poor economy to poor health care, he said.