Northwest veterans traveling to Standing Rock to protest DAPL
Portland, Ore. — It started as a blessing at the Native American Youth and Family Center in Northeast Portland, then breakfast was served.
You could hear the drum beats and chanting of the "American Indian Movement" song. Its meaning is "coming together as one," which was appropriate for the occasion, as dozens of veterans, mostly of native descent, leave for the Standing Rock Reservation to protest the Dakota Access Pipeline.
"The aggression that's going on down there, hopefully they'll respect the veterans," said John Nelson, whose grandson is a tribal chairman in Standing Rock.
He sent his grandfather to coordinate the 150 or so vets traveling from the Pacific Northwest to join a 2,000 veteran human chain around the protesters at Standing Rock. They've been told they have to leave by Monday, Dec. 5.
"Peaceful, prayerful meeting and we hope that they'll look at this and say, 'Hey, we can't go against our own people. This is fighting our own country. We can't do this,'" Nelson explained.
Candida Rodriguez Kingberd just got back from Standing Rock.
"It was shocking. It was beautiful and terrifying. It was empowering," Rodriguez Kingberd said.
"I went there after the incident with the dogs. I had to go," says John Spencer, referring to photographs that appear to show guard dogs attacking protesters.
Tensions have grown even more from when Spencer was there in September.
"We don't know what we're going to face with the cops there," Spencer, a former Marine, said. "They've been doing some terrible things to our people, but a bunch of Indian veterans together… we don't care. We're going to be strong together."
Before the group left, they said one final prayer, and wished each other well.
"We're all one, we're all one people, and that's what we strive to be now, thank you," Nelson told the crowd.