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Standing Rock Sioux Chairman Voted Out Of Office

Dave Archambault, chairman of the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe, stands outside court in Washington in October 2016, where appeals court judges heard his tribe's challenge to the Dakota Access Pipeline.
Jessica Gresko

The chairman of the Standing Rock Sioux tribe in North Dakota has been voted out of office, just about one year after the Dakota Access Pipeline protests.

Unofficial results show Dave Archambault received about 37 percent of the 1,710 votes cast. His challenger, current tribal councilman Mike Faith, received 63 percent.

Archambault conceded defeat in a statement on Facebook:

Under Archambault's leadership the tribe opposed the 1,000-mile, $3.8 billion pipeline. It transports up to 520,000 barrels of crude a day from North Dakota to Illinois.

A section of the pipeline is located just north of the tribe's reservation, and opponents argued construction would compromise sacred lands. They also worried that part of the pipeline under the Missouri River could leak and pollute local drinking water.

The tribe's opposition inspired protest camps that attracted demonstrators from around the world. There were clashes with police and hundreds of people were arrested.

While the pipeline protests were an issue during the election campaign they were not the only one. The Associated Press reports:

"[Faith] said he personally opposes the pipeline but thinks the large-scale protest took focus away from other issues, including health care, education, elderly needs, suicide problems, illegal drugs and a poor economy.

" 'We kind of neglected our own' by taking the lead on the pipeline protest, he said. 'We did what we had to do, but we didn't realize we were going to hurt our economy that much.'

"The state shut down the highway near the protest camp for months. The highway also was the main route for patrons of the tribe's casino, its main source of revenue.

" 'People want to see how we can fix ourselves,' Faith said. 'We have to look at not depending on the casino so much. We have to look at enticing companies to come down here.' "

Still, the pipeline is an ongoing issue. The tribe continues to battle the pipeline company, Energy Transfer Partners, in court even though oil began flowing through the pipeline this summer.

Copyright 2020 NPR. To see more, visit https://www.npr.org.

Jeff Brady is a National Desk Correspondent based in Philadelphia, where he covers the mid-Atlantic region and energy issues. Brady helped establish NPR's environment and energy collaborative which brings together NPR and Member station reporters from across the country to cover the big stories involving the natural world.
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