Activists celebrate at Oceti Sakowin Camp on the edge of the Standing Rock Sioux Reservation on Dec. 4, 2016 outside Cannon Ball, North Dakota, after the Army Corps of Engineers said the current route of the pipeline will be denied.
Activists celebrate at Oceti Sakowin Camp on the edge of the Standing Rock Sioux Reservation on Dec. 4, 2016 outside Cannon Ball, North Dakota, after the Army Corps of Engineers said the current route of the pipeline will be denied.
Beatrice Menase Kwe Jackson of the Ojibwe tribe leads a song during a traditional water ceremony along the Cannonball River at the Oceti Sakowin camp.
Beatrice Menase Kwe Jackson of the Ojibwe tribe leads a song during a traditional water ceremony along the Cannonball River at the Oceti Sakowin camp.

Protesters against the controversial Dakota Access Pipeline have expressed dismay at a new slate of bills proposed this week by North Dakota’s Republican-led and largely oil-friendly state legislature that, if passed, could potentially upend their months-long protest movement.

The bills, motivated by residents’ frustration with the ongoing protests in the southern part of the state where the Oceti Sakowin camp is located, would make it a crime for adults to wear masks at protests — similar to the law that lasted for nearly 50 years that was aimed at the Ku Klux Klan — and exempt a driver from liability if they unintentionally injure or kill a pedestrian obstructing traffic on a public road or highway.

Another bill would require the state’s attorney general to sue the federal government to help cover some of the more than $22 million in state law enforcement costs incurred since the protests over the $3.7 billion pipeline began in August 2016. Critics say the project threatens ancestral Standing Rock Sioux land and the water supply.

For Tara Houska, a Native American environmental activist who has resided at the camp since August, the bills are “a direct violation of our First Amendment rights.”