Just one year after the Dakota Access Pipeline protests made headlines around the world, the chairman of the Standing Rock Sioux tribe in North Dakota has been voted out of office.
The now former-chairman, Dave Archambault, managed to receive about 37% of the 1710 votes and his challenger Mike Faith, a longtime councilman and wildlife official, won with 63%. Archambault released a statement shortly after his defeat, making it clear he won’t be fading into the background.
“I will continue to advocate for the issues facing our community and look forward to exploring new opportunities,” he said. “I wish the new administration the best and look forward to a smooth transition, ensuring that we do not lose the powerful momentum we have at Standing Rock.”
The Standing Rock tribe gained international attention last year when they opposed the building of a $3.8 billion pipeline that they feared would harm their water supply and cultural sites. The company behind the pipeline rejected these claims, but that didn’t calm things down. A protest camp was set up near the area where the pipeline skirted tribal land and drew thousands of demonstrators. Ultimately, the protests weren’t enough to stop construction, but the Standing Rock tribe and three other Sioux tribes are continuing to fight the issue in federal court.
That said, Rev. John Floberg, a longtime minister on the reservation, said he doesn’t think that Archambault’s handling of the protests was a factor in his defeat.
Faith shares the opinion that the protests weren’t a huge factor in the election, but believes that the protests took attention away from other issues facing the tribe. These issues include suicide problems, illegal drugs, elder needs, healthcare, education. The large-scale protests impacted the economy of the tribe a great deal. When the state shut down the highway near the protest camp, they also shut down the main route to the tribe’s casino, its main revenue source.