For much of 2016, people from around the country gathered to protest the Dakota Access Pipeline being built near the Standing Rock Sioux Reservation in North Dakota.
In December, it appeared the standoff between protesters and law enforcement had come to an end. The U-S Army Corps of Engineers denied the oil company the permit it needed to build in the area.
Some protesters however, are refusing to pack up and go home. They say they don’t trust Dakota Access Pipeline and don’t believe this is the end of the ordeal…Among the skeptical are two Mount Pleasant residents. They recently returned from a holiday visit to Standing Rock. Sarah Adams spoke with them shortly before they left.
Jennie Jones and Lauren Richards have been collecting supplies for over a month to take to the protesters in North Dakota. Richards says the recent turn of events hasn’t changed a thing in her mind. Richards and Jones have packed their cars with supplies to help get the protesters through the winter…things like food, cold weather sleeping bags and small propane heaters.
Richards says since she posted about the trip on social media, donations of supplies and money have been coming in from all over. “People have been so generous….we’ve received some items personally from people who just know us and wanted to hand stuff off. A lot of monetary donations that’s been really helpful so we’re able to purchase some other supplies”.
Richards says even though officials like Standing Rock Sioux tribal chairman have asked protesters to go home, friends in North Dakota are telling her the protest is far from over. “We were a little concerned at first thinking we wouldn’t be welcomed or needed and that was going to be ok if that was the case however we do have a friend named John who has been out there a couple of times now. I just spoke to him a few days ago and he said they still need people and he’s connected with a lot of the tribal leaders and elders and he’s getting firsthand information. So we trust him. We trust what he says”
Jennie Jones says she and Richards are preparing the best they can based on what they’re being told and what they’ve seen in media coverage.”It looks really cold and blizzard, a lot of wind so I’m expecting first of all, the cold, intense cold”.
Adams: “As someone living in Michigan, why is something happening in North Dakota important to you?”
Jones: “Because we’re all connected. I think that’s something that people are starting to understand and realize if they haven’t yet. We really are very all connected. If we want to see things change, we need to be the ones to do it. We can no longer just sit back and watch things pass us by. It’s not the time for that. I feel really strongly in my heart that Standing Rock is the beginning of many, many, many more things and instances where people will have the opportunity to stand up and be heard. … I feel people from all over the country banding together and wanting to help in some way and this is what’s happening and so it’s important to do because of that and because we can no longer be silent.”
Jones and Richards tell me future trips to help the protesters will happen if they are needed.