Over 2,000 U.S. military veterans plan to form a human shield to protect protesters of a pipeline project near a Native American reservation in North Dakota, organizers said, just ahead of a federal deadline for activists to leave the camp they have been occupying. It is a timely move as protesters were given notice by State officials to vacate the Oceti Sakowin camp, located on U.S. Army Corps of Engineers land near Cannon Ball, North Dakota, citing harsh weather conditions. North Dakota local law enforcement were planning to cut off supplies to the protesters’ camp but quickly reversed that decision as the harsh treatment of protesters has made international media coverage.
Governor Jack Dalrymple, who initiated the emergency order to evacuate the camp, has attempted to re-engage with Standing Rock Sioux Tribal Council to rebuild a relationship.
The 1,172-mile (1,885 km) pipeline project, owned by Texas-based Energy Transfer Partners LP (ETP.N), is mostly complete, except for a segment planned to run under Lake Oahe, a reservoir formed by a dam on the Missouri River.
Veterans Stand for Standing Rock, a contingent of more than 2,000 U.S. military veterans, intends to go to North Dakota by this weekend and form a human wall in front of police, protest organizers said on a Facebook page. Organizers could not immediately be reached for comment.
“I figured this was more important than anything else I could be doing,” Guy Dull Knife, 69, a Vietnam War Army veteran, told Reuters at the main camp.
Dull Knife is a member of the Oglala Lakota tribe from the Pine Ridge Reservation of South Dakota, and has been camping at the protest site for months.