A group of Alaska Native women helping with the Standing Rock Sioux protest of the Dakota Access Pipeline, are providing an inside perspective on the dispute that’s getting worldwide attention.
The cell service is patchy at Standing Rock unless you walk up a hill that overlooks the Oceti Sakowin camp. Everyone at the camp calls it Facebook hill. Water protectors walk up the hill hoping for cell service to make phone calls, send text messages, and for the lucky few, to check their Facebook and other social media.
Shirley Ann Shimek who goes by, “Skipper” came from Anchorage to help support the people who are protesting the pipeline at Standing Rock.
“The people could come here and storm this place and no one would ever know. That’s how it feels to some of the people that are staying here,” Shimek said.
Shimek has been working in the kitchen cleaning and cooking and listening to the people around the camp.
“The feeling here is one of comraderies, everyone is in sync with each other for the water and to support the Standing Rock community,” Shimek said.
Each night you can see huge lights shining into the camp from where the Dakota Access Pipeline is working on the protested project and there are planes and helicopters flying over the camp throughout the day and night..
“I just don’t understand why there is a helicopter and airplanes buzzing around and around,” Shimek said.
Fighting back tears, Shimke shared why she came to Standing Rock. She said she read on Facebook about a young man and his horse who were both shot with a rubber bullet.
“You would think that they wouldn’t do that anymore,” Shimek said. “That we would all live peacefully and this kind of action would not be tolerated by the world…but here we are.”
Shimke said the trip has been great for her because she connected with other women in Alaska.
“Believe me, it’s very powerful to be around and be a part of these women,” Shimek said.