Standing Rock ‘Water Protectors’ dig in for the Winter and Trump Attack

A Native American leader asked thousands of protesters to return home, but many protesters chose to stay, sceptical of government’s decision to refuse permission for the controversial oil pipeline project. [Avery White/Al Jazeera]

As winter rages over the Dakotas and temperatures plummet below freezing, NoDAPL protest movement members hold ground.

    by    Standing Rock Indian Reservation,      When word came down from the Army Corps of Engineers to the Oceti Sakowin camp that the Dakota Access Pipeline (DAPL) had been denied the final easement to drill below the Missouri River, residents of the camp celebrated the victory with hundreds of veterans who had come to protect natives and their allies.While 21-year-old Sarah seeks refuge from the cold in her tent, she reflects on her life before Standing Rock. ‘I had no purpose before this. I was a walking zombie. Here, I actually feel alive, like I’m living. Once you come to Standing Rock, you can’t just go home to your regular life, watch TV, eat supper, go back to work.’ [Avery White/Al Jazeera]

The excessive force used by authorities in recent clashes near the drilling site had spurred a public outcry on behalf of the unarmed occupants, who call themselves “water protectors”, of Oceti Sakowin, and many veterans saw it as a call for action. For the veterans, native and non-native alike, of every age and from every war, travelling to Standing Rock was an extension of their lifelong commitment to serving the country. 

Successive blizzards have left the camp thickly blanketed with snow.

A water protector rides through camp with a tribal flag, checking on camp residents to ensure they have a safe shelter and supplies, such as propane to stay warm during subfreezing temperatures. [Avery White/Al Jazeera]

Even as winter rages over the Dakotas and temperatures plummet below freezing, members of the movement are not ready to pack it in yet. Those who have chosen to hold the ground at Oceti Sakowin have doubts that Energy Transfer Partners, the company behind the DAPL, will honour the Army Corps’ decision.

With the rapidly approaching term of President-elect Donald Trump, who has been vocal in his support of the pipeline, many fear that the struggle has only just begun.

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