Water protesters celebrated Christmas as the fight against the pipeline continues into 2017. Despite Christmas day bringing harsh winter conditions, Dakota Access pipeline protestors have continued their fight and brought in the holidays together.
Almost all of North and South Dakota were under blizzard, ice storm or winter storm warnings on Sunday as meteorologists forecast wintry weather for central U.S.
The National Weather Service said that the blizzard warning for the Sioux County — where the Standing Rock protest camp is located — will run until Monday, with up to 12 inches of snow and winds reaching up to 45 mph expected.
The service warned that the freezing weather would make ground travel near impossible and could hamper the holiday travel plans for millions across the United States. But this has not deterred the estimated hundreds of “water protectors” at protests camps braving the weather.
December has been a particularly brutal month for protesters at the camp. Many decided to leave after an earlier blizzard left more than half a foot of snow and strong winds whipped the protest site.
Protesters opposing the 3.8 billion project celebrated Christmas by creating pathways of lanterns across the camp and tried to stay warm with campfires and propane heaters.
On Sunday, members of the Oceti Sakowin camp are expected share a large Christmas dinner together.
Earlier in the month, the Oklahoma Indian Missionary Conference raised close to $5,000 worth of donations including essential items for the cold as well as toys for children that were delivered to the Standing Rock camp.
“We all should be spending time with our families. Our children share the same breath and the same future. Their great-grandchildren will look at these days with smiles. We all live peacefully for their good lives,” said Lee Sprague, who is currently living in the Oceti Sakowin camp, told Native News Online.
Standing Rock Tribal Chairman Dave Archambault II, thanked the water protestors who “came to the camps and put their hearts, minds, and bodies on the line,” and “the millions around the world who expressed support from afar,” in a statement via Facebook on Sunday morning.
“As we pivot our focus towards pressuring the new administration, we take this time to acknowledge that we would not have gotten here without your incredible show of support. We will do our very best to honour you, and fight onwards in solidarity,” Archambault continued.
Protestors started occupying camps in April in opposition to the 1,172-mile pipeline which Native Americans and environmentalists say will cross over sacred land and pollute the local environment and waterways. The grassroots protests have gained increasing international attention, particularly through alternative and social media.