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Politics & Government

North Dakota Evacuation Order Of Pipeline Protest Area Cites Weather

DAVID GREENE, HOST:

Protesters camped out at the Dakota Access Pipeline construction site have two new challenges. One is a state order to evacuate. The other - North Dakota's winter weather. But they say they are staying. Minnesota Public Radio's Doualy Xaykaothao has more from Bismarck.

DOUALY XAYKAOTHAO, BYLINE: Men, women and children woke up in traditional teepees, modern campers and tents to at least six inches of snow yesterday at the protest campsites near the construction of a controversial oil pipeline. And just as they were digging out of the snow, the governor announced an emergency evacuation of the camps, effective immediately. In a statement, Governor Jack Dalrymple said he issued the order to protect protesters from what he called harsh winter conditions. Later, Morton County Sheriff Kyle Kirchmeier, in a video message, reinforced the governor's concerns.

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KYLE KIRCHMEIER: Being outside exposed to the elements for long periods - even short periods of time, depending on temperatures - does bring in life-threatening conditions to include frostbite, hypothermia and possible death.

XAYKAOTHAO: But the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe chairman, Dave Archambault II, doesn't see it like that.

DAVE ARCHAMBAULT: There's 7,000 people down there, and they're hunkered in pretty good. And so if force comes, it's not going to be good for anybody. And I don't think the governor wants that on his hands, and I don't think the Corps of Engineers wants that.

XAYKAOTHAO: Indicating that may be true, both state and federal authorities say they do not plan to forcibly remove protesters. For NPR News, I'm Doualy Xaykaothao in Bismarck, N.D. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.