President Barack Obama told reporters Tuesday the government is determining whether there are any conceivable ways to reroute the Dakota oil pipeline.
“As a general rule, my view is that there is a way for us to accommodate sacred lands of Native Americans,” Obama told NowThis News. “And I think, right now, that the Army Corps is examining whether there are ways to reroute this pipeline.”
The government is going to let the entire process play out for several more weeks to allow “first Americans” the opportunity to have their concerns met, Obama explained.
He also suggested that “there’s an obligation for authorities to show restraint” when handling the Dakota Access Pipeline protests at the Cannon Ball campsite in North Dakota.
Federal officials have refused to evict those hunkered down at an anti-pipeline encampment near the highly controversial, $3.8 billion project. Officials believe booting the protesters would harm free speech rights, despite the fact that the land is owned by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers.
Protesters and members of the Standing Rock Sioux tribe argue the pipeline’s construction would trample on tribal lands and destroy artifacts. They also believe it could potentially poison waterways, including rivers such as the Missouri River and Lake Oahe in North Dakota.
Demonstrators are refusing to budge from various sites around the pipeline, with some telling reporters that they will only leave once the “big black snake” is finally defeated.
The protests have grown increasingly violent since they first began in August.
“These rioters have left Corps and Standing Rock property on multiple occasions and travel several miles to enter private property to assault employees, private security personnel and damage property,” Mercer County Sheriff Dean Danzeisen wrote in a letter to the Justice Department in October.
Hostile reactions are coming to a head between protesters on one side, the company involved in building the pipeline on another, and locals seemingly caught in between.