Photo by Rob Wilson
Published October 19, 2016
CANNON BALL, NORTH DAKOTA — Morton County Sheriff Kyle Kirchmeier told a North Dakota television reporter on Monday that blocking area roads “affects people’s rights.” Joe Dunn, Councilman of the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe, made the following statement:
I would like to respond to the comments that were made by Morton County Sheriff Kyle Kirchmeier on KFYR television on October 17, 2016. The Sheriff says that blocking roads “affects people’s rights.” I would remind Sheriff Kirchmeier that the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe are “people” as well and deserve to have our rights upheld.
These roadblocks are literally dividing our communities and eroding the good relations that our tribal and non-tribal residents have formed.
While the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe and the other tribal nations make great contributions to the state of North Dakota, these significant contributions are often underplayed and overlooked. We have to go through a road block that we help pay for every time we travel on highway 1806 to and from the Bismarck and Mandan area. We are questioned, “Where are you coming from?” and “Where are you going?”
We have been detoured for no justifiable reason. The road block south of the Fort Lincoln Cemetery has been a huge waste of taxpayers’ money while accomplishing nothing more than disrupting innocent citizens daily lives and also creating racial tensions and division between our communities.
These road blocks also put people at risk. Medical patients who are in need of care, are stopped on their way to the medical facilities in Bismarck. Commuters have been detoured many miles based on the color of their skin. Our children from Standing Rock and also those who attend Bismarck-Mandan schools are being subjected to the same racial profiling and bullying that we have seen modeled by the Morton County Sheriff’s office.
Sheriff Kirchmeier, do you think that Native people’s rights are being “affected” by this roadblock? I should not have to remind you that we live in the United States of America governed by a Constitution where equal protection of law is afforded to all citizens, not just those of your choosing.
I am very disappointed with the State Government of North Dakota for allowing this to happen. I myself have served with pride while participating in the Electric Coop industry, and have worked faithfully for many years advocating to strengthening relationships with the State. After working to build those relationships that took decades, it is discouraging and disheartening to see that the state has so easily discounted everything we have accomplished as good neighbors and has aligned its efforts and resources with a Texas-owned corporation.