© 2020 WFAE
90.7 Charlotte 93.7 Southern Pines 90.3 Hickory 106.1 Laurinburg
Play Live Radio
Next Up:
0:00
0:00
Available On Air Stations

Protesters Mark A Solemn Thanksgiving Day At Standing Rock

Protesters gather at Standing Rock Reservation on Thanksgiving Day to build a bridge to Turtle Island, which they consider sacred ground. Police are seen lining the island hill beyond them.
Protesters gather at Standing Rock Reservation on Thanksgiving Day to build a bridge to Turtle Island, which they consider sacred ground. Police are seen lining the island hill beyond them.

Several thousand Native Americans and their supporters continued to camp out near the Standing Rock Sioux Reservation in North Dakota on Thanksgiving Day.

Citizens of the Standing Rock Sioux Nation set up the Sacred Stone Camp in April to protest the Dakota Access Pipeline, which they say would threaten nearby burial sites and the Sioux water supply.

Protesters work on the bridge to Turtle Island. After they crossed, protesters say they conversed with police without clashing.
/ Cassi Alexandra for NPR
Protesters work on the bridge to Turtle Island. After they crossed, protesters say they conversed with police without clashing.

Thousands of people have passed through the camp and more have pledged support. Numbers swell in the camp on weekends; some estimate that the population has doubled with the holiday.

After a violent clash with police less than a week ago, in which dozens were injured, rumors of police raids traveled through the camp on Thursday, but none actually occurred.

Instead, led by the International Indigenous Youth Council, protesters — or water protectors, as they identify themselves — built a floating bridge near the camp in an effort to cross a creek to Turtle Island, which is considered sacred ground. After they crossed, protesters gathered in a prayer circle, marking the moment by holding hands and singing.

"There was a lot of ceremony and prayer and song and it was beautiful," said Vanessa Red Bull, a medic from the Cherokee nation, who has been at the camp for several months. She describes a humanizing scene, where despite the tension, police and protesters were able to converse without clashing.

"Everybody peacefully went home, even though these actions lasted multiple hours. It was peaceful. No one got hurt, and at the end of the day as a medic, that's what we hope for."

Copyright 2020 NPR. To see more, visit https://www.npr.org.

"Water protectors" join hands in prayer during a peaceful protest as police line a hill on Turtle Island.
/ (Top right) Jessica Rinaldi/The Boston Globe via Getty Images; Cassi Alexandra for NPR (2)
"Water protectors" join hands in prayer during a peaceful protest as police line a hill on Turtle Island.