Local Native American tribal leader returns from Dakota pipeline

A local Native American tribal leader just got back to Michigan after spending the weekend in North Dakota with 21 other members of the NHBP tribe.

FULTON, MICH. - Jamie Stuck is the Nottawaseppi Huron Band of the Potawatomi Tribal Council Chairman. He made the trip to North Dakota with others to donate supplies to those standing at Standing Rock.

Although temperatures continue to drop in North Dakota, Stuck said the people out there aren't going anywhere, anytime soon.

"They're not going anywhere. They're not going to go anywhere. That camp's going to stay standing up through winter," Stuck said. "I'd say probably a little over a thousand people out there in camp, maybe more."

More: How did Dakota Access become world's largest pipeline protest?

Related: Group stands with Standing Rock at Rosa Parks Circle

Contrary to what some believe, Stuck said the people out there are not protestors.

"They are considered water protectors, they are protecting the water. The creator gave us the water, we are here to protect it," Stuck said.

The protectors are trying to stop construction of an oil pipeline, which they say threatens not only their water supply but Native American ancestral history.

"They are protecting their aboriginal territories, they're protecting their cultural ways of life. They're peaceful, they're unarmed, and we have a human rights issue here. It's a humanitarian issue where humans life is not being respected by law enforcement," Stuck said.

On Sunday, Stuck said some of the protectors attempted to remove a barricade that they say blocked emergency crews from getting in and out of the reservation.

"In return, the local police department fired water hoses at them, large rubber bullets which they were aiming for head, they were also shooting tear gas and it turned into a more violent demonstration than it was intended to be by the protectors," Stuck said.

Stuck believes there's a skewed perception of what exactly is going on at the pipeline.

"The local police department is definitely making the protectors out to be the bad guys," Stuck said.

Despite the violence, Stuck said the attitude out there is still inspiring.

"For them to not let the elements to get the best of them and make them back down and quit, their resiliency is so remarkable and amazing to me," Stuck said.

The Morton County Sheriff's Office estimated 400 protesters were on a bridge trying to go north on state Highway 1806 late Sunday evening. Law enforcement formed a line to prevent their movement.

Morton County Sheriff Kyle Kirchmeier said in a statement that the protesters' actions "forced law enforcement to respond."

"I can't stress it enough, this is a public safety issue," he said. "We cannot have protesters blocking county roads, blocking state highways or trespassing on private property."

There are ways you can help. Stuck encourages writing to the attorney general requesting federal monitors to be sent to Standing Rock to protect the civil rights of those out there, you can also click here for more information.

(© 2016 WZZM)


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