Dear Commons Community,
Thousands of people, led by the Standing Rock Sioux tribe, have been protesting the pipeline, which would carry crude oil from North Dakota to Illinois en route to the Gulf of Mexico. The route is adjacent to the Standing Rock reservation, and the tribe and climate activists say the line risks contamination of the tribe’s water source and its construction has damaged, and would further damage, sacred sites. As reported by Reuters:
While clothing, food and money have been pouring in from all over the world, the Dakota Access Pipeline Donation Fund requests more donations of wood, blankets, winter sleeping bags and propane to help weather the winter.
A division of labor keeps many active, with campers volunteering in the four kitchens, shoveling snow, building tents and doing myriad other tasks.
The multitudes at the camp defy the predictions of state and local officials, many of whom said out-of-state protesters would flee south like migrating birds. Children can be seen sliding playfully down nearby hills while senior citizens gossip over fire pits.
“It’s a scare tactic, saying it’s too cold to be here,” said Gemma Akins, 36, a Reiki healer – a form of stress reduction – from Colorado.
North Dakota Governor Jack Dalrymple issued an evacuation order for the camp earlier this week, citing the weather. That followed the Army Corps’ earlier decree to vacate the camp, which is on federal land, by Monday. The state is not going to enforce that order, and voluntary compliance doesn’t look likely.
“I have zero experience with the cold,” said Jess Weiner, 29, of Los Angeles, who arrived Thursday. “But I love the adrenaline of being here.”
It’s not clear how much money has been raised to build and sustain the camp since it was founded last spring, but estimates stand in the millions of dollars. The protests started attracting more attention in the late summer, particularly after clashes between activists and private security hired by Energy Transfer Partners, which is building the line.
The Obama Administration has twice delayed approval for ETP to tunnel the pipeline under the Missouri River. This one-mile stretch is the last unfinished spot on the line in North Dakota.
The Three Affiliated Tribes of the MHA Nation, another large American Indian tribe in North Dakota, earlier this fall funded portable toilets, food and garbage removal. Even though they have earned billions from the extraction of oil and gas from their lands, the MHA have supported the Standing Rock protest.