Police, protesters clash at Cantapeta Creek as Obama wades into Dakota dispute

By Online News - Rereātea

Thousands of people have gathered on the shoreline of the Cantapeta Creek, just north of the Standing Rock Sioux Indian Reservation to protest against the controversial North Dakota access pipeline.  

Police have shot rubber bullets and used pepper spray on peaceful protestors, who are referring to themselves as water protectors.

The video above shows protestors on the shoreline praying, playing drums, singing and wading into the river towards the base of the hill where armed police stood, resulting in clashes.

For a number of days, law enforcement vehicles have been stationed on a hill near the shoreline. Water protectors had requested that law enforcement move as the hill is recognized as a burial ground and sacred site by the Standing Rock Sioux.

But NBC news has reported that the Morton County Sheriff's Department Public Information Officer insisted that the police must stay there "to prevent criminal trespass on private property." 

In a press release, the Morton County Sheriff's Department said, "Officers also deployed pepper spray and tear gas to disperse the group of protesters who came across the water and camp at officers."

In a letter to the U.S Army Corps of Engineers, The Chairman of the Cheyenne River Sioux tribe,  Harold C. Frazer countered by disputing the Army Corps jurisdiction on federal land.

“Despite the fact the Corps’ lands at issue here are publicly owned, I learned that North Dakota State law enforcement officers had advised the peaceful demonstrators that their presence on Corps’ lands constituted criminal trespass.

"Those lands are federal lands. They are apparently free and open to the public. Even if there is some restriction on the right of demonstrators, including members of my Tribe, to exercise their Constitutional rights on this land, I am not aware of North Dakota’s authority to arrest and detain for criminal trespass on this land.”

President Barack Obama also spoke exclusively to Now This news in regards to the Standing Rock protests.

He says, “We’re monitoring this closely and I think as a general rule my view is that there is a way for us to accommodate sacred lands of Native Americans and I think that right now the army corps are examining whether there are ways to reroute this pipeline. So we’re going to let it play out for several more weeks and determine whether or not this can be resolved in a way that I think is properly attentive to the traditions of the first Americans.”