The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers announced this weekend that it plans to close the camps where for months Native American groups and allies – who have called themselves "water protectors" – have protested to block the construction of the Dakota Access oil pipeline, which they say threatens the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe's main water supply and cultural artifacts.
Which means that, as the government's December 5 deadline looms
, water protectors are hunkering down at the camps, where last weekend law enforcement deployed water hoses, rubber bullets and tear gas against hundreds of unarmed protesters, injuring more than 300 – including a 21-year-old woman whose arm was nearly blown off
by the so-called "less than lethal" response from law enforcement.
Activists from across the country have descended on Standing Rock, including Jennifer K. Falcon, a familiar face at San Antonio protests, marches and rallies for everything from Black Lives Matter to reproductive rights and LGBTQ equality. Falcon, who is herself a native journalist
(a Fort Peck Assiniboine Sioux member), recently spent days with the water protectors in Standing Rock and is now organizing a local supply drive for protesters who are preparing for officials' plans to evict the camp.
Falcon has teamed up with the owners of The Mix and Frank to raise money and supplies for Standing Rock this week. The Mix and Frank will accept donations through Friday, after which supplies will be driven up to the camp in North Dakota, along with a banner designed by local artist Cruz Ortiz that reads: "San Antonio Stands With Standing Rock." Ortiz will also donate some of the proceeds from his artwork to the Standing Rock camps.
Falcon says that while law enforcement have painted protestors as violent or dangerous, that's not what she saw on the ground. "Water Protectors are trying to protect sacred burial land and our most precious resource, water, through peaceful prayer and non-violent civil disobedience," she said. "Our people have continuously had to fight for our homelands to be protected for the past 500 years. To have to fight to just exist is exhausting, we cannot continue on this path.”
Donations can be made online
or dropped off at The Mix (2423 N St Mary's) or Frank (1150 S Alamo). Among the supplies they're trying to gather: firewood, wool blankets and socks, safety goggles, trauma kits, and thermal bed rolls. See the group's Facebook page
for a full list.