Over a week ago, I sent a letter to Gov. Doug Burgum. In it, I cited that Highway 1806 needed to reopen as it caused undue hardship on the people of Cannon Ball.
You may remember that it was the actions of the people of Cannon Ball that took the first steps to deescalate what has been in place since last August, and the final closure of the highway on October 27th. Today, I learned the reason for the public highway not being reopened is that the Dakota Access Pipeline construction crew is using it as a parking lot for their equipment. They purchased the Cannon Ball Ranch and were given an extraordinary variance from state law for a corporation to own agricultural land in North Dakota. They have plenty of acreage there to do what they have to do without using a state highway to support their $4 billion project. That company is using a state highway and blocking the free flow of traffic from a town that ranks among the poorest in the United States. This is morally unjustifiable.
I have been told that their work has caused mud and debris to be brought onto the highway that has also made the route impassable. All the while the governor's office has been citing the Oceti Sakowin Camp as being the place that needed to be cleaned up. It turns out that the Dakota Access Pipeline has been causing damage to this public highway that needs repair.
So, maybe it wasn't the protesters that were keeping the highway closed? It is time to start getting to a place where true reconciliation can begin. That route is in the governor's court. We have much work to do.
Floberg is an Episcopal priest on the Standing Rock Sioux Reservation.