FacebookTwitterRedditEmail

Veterans for Standing Rock – A Photo Essay

On December 2, Ruth Fowler joined a convoy of approximately 4,500 veterans heading to North Dakota in response to a plea put out by Michael Wood Jr. and Wesley Clark Jr. for fellow vets to support Standing Rock water protectors and provide frontline relief. ‘Veterans for Standing Rock’ was initially set up as a GoFundMe to support the several hundred vets the two believed might answer their call. No one quite thought the camps at Standing Rock would be besieged by over four thousand veterans on the same weekend. 

Here’s the story in pictures – we’ll have an essay to follow by Ruth in the forthcoming CounterPunch magazine– Joshua Frank

***

 

rf-1

Former Combat Medic Christa McDermont takes selfies with the other veterans’ wives shortly before boarding a bus at Union Station, headed to the Standing Rock Sioux Reservation in North Dakota with a cargo of 25 veterans, five civilians and many donations.

rf-2

USAF Vet Sharne Matson, a mother of four, looks rested as she takes her seat on a bus journey which was estimated to take 22 hours. After the first driver takes multiple wrong turns, nearly hits several vehicles and freezes everyone by blasting the a/c throughout the night, the journey extended into 30 hours.

rf-3

Around 4am, the bus stops outside a hotel in Utah for the bus driver to swap out for a new driver. Anthony Aragon, wrapped in a sleeping bag, stretches his legs with the other vets before bedding down for the night.

rf-4

The Veterans wake up the next morning in frozen Utah.

rf-5

Steven Lee, a 37 year old with a soft Southern drawl and a baby face, was a cryptolinguist in the Marines. He now campaigns for deported Veterans and teaches in schools.

rf-6

After 24 hours on the bus, everyone takes a supply break at Walmart and stocks up on last minute items. Amanda Silvestri, one of the first female paratroopers in the 509th airborne infantry, strides along the aisles with 30 year old Elizabeth Torrance, an Iraq Vet.

rf-8

Around 6am on the second morning, the bus eventually finds its way to the Lakota Cultural Center in Fort Yates where a makeshift welcome area has been set up to welcome Vets and provide sustenance, rest, support and directions to the High School where they will sleep for a few hours before heading to the main camp.

rf-9

Sebastian Braidhair of Arizona plays while his Grandfather, Eric Braidhair, a Navajo veterans of fifteen years, sits in the background and waits for the Navajo Nation Veterans to show up at a registration office set up in Cannonball. Sebastian’s uncle is a combat marine who has completed four tours.

rf-10

Elizabeth Torrance takes a picture of camp as the Veterans march over the bridge to Oceti Sakowin after hearing the news that the Army Corps easement was denied.

rf-11

Native American children play in the snow as the various camps celebrate the news that the drilling is temporarily on hold.

rf-12

Around the Sacred Fire many veterans proudly display their cultural roots alongside their military honors.

rf-13

rf-14

rf-15

The celebration doesn’t last long for the LA veterans as the bus driver heads into Oceti Sakowin and immediately gets stuck in ice as the temperature drops and night closes in.

rf-16

Martina One Star and Vale Clements watch, amused, as the Vets try and free the bus. They are from the Rosebud Sioux tribe in Arizona and have been at Standing Rock for three months.

rf-17

After the bus is freed, the Vets are informed that because of the huge influx of Veterans, their accommodation has been given away. They are taken in by Camp Rosebud and housed in a former supply store with a faulty stove. Amanda sits surveying their new home with dismay.

rf-18

The next morning a blizzard sets in just as the Vets set off for a ceremonial march to the front lines.

rf-19

Veterans look confused as the Standing Rock elders stop the march from crossing the bridge. Many veterans had planned to be at the front line, taking hits, and were disappointed their role had become merely symbolic.

rf-20

The march is abandoned after an hour, and the Vets stumble back to their camp in zero visibility. As the blizzard worsens, the condensation formed on the roof of the canvas starts to fall back on the girls in the form of snow, and they have little choice but to get in their sleeping bags, cover themselves with a tarp, and get through the night.

rf-21-copy

As the blizzard continues to worsen, tents fall down, catch on fire, and get snowed out. People frantically trying to leave in cars unequipped for the weather cause utter chaos within the camp. The vets make the call to try and leave to the local casino.

rf-22

At the Casino, hundreds of vets and water protectors alike are camping out in the hallways, amongst the slot machines, and under the bleachers while business continues regardless. Will McMichael stands wreathed in smoke having just discovered the elders made the decision not to serve alcohol until the Casino is cleared out.

rf-23

rf-24

Co-founder Wesley Clark Jr. talks to the LA vets shortly before returning to LA and making the announcement that he had parted ways with the organization, leaving it clear for Michael Wood to form a 501c4 and deal with the catastrophic finances of over 4,500 vets seeking expenses for their trip.

More articles by:

Ruth Fowler was born in Wales and lives between Los Angeles and London. You can find out more about her at ruthfowler.net or Venmo her at @ruth-iorio

bernie-the-sandernistas-cover-344x550

Weekend Edition
June 14, 2019
Friday - Sunday
Michael Hudson
Trump’s Trade Threats are Really Cold War 2.0
Bruce E. Levine
Tom Paine, Christianity, and Modern Psychiatry
Jason Hirthler
Mainstream 101: Supporting Imperialism, Suppressing Socialism
T.J. Coles
How Much Do Humans Pollute? A Breakdown of Industrial, Vehicular and Household C02 Emissions
Andrew Levine
Whither The Trump Paradox?
Jeffrey St. Clair
Roaming Charges: In the Land of 10,000 Talkers, All With Broken Tongues
Pete Dolack
Look to U.S. Executive Suites, Not Beijing, For Why Production is Moved
Paul Street
It Can’t Happen Here: From Buzz Windrip and Doremus Jessup to Donald Trump and MSNBC
Rob Urie
Capitalism Versus Democracy
Richard Moser
The Climate Counter-Offensive: Secrecy, Deception and Disarming the Green New Deal
Naman Habtom-Desta
Up in the Air: the Fallacy of Aerial Campaigns
Ramzy Baroud
Kushner as a Colonial Administrator: Let’s Talk About the ‘Israeli Model’
Mark Hand
Residents of Toxic W.Va. Town Keep Hope Alive
John Kendall Hawkins
Alias Anything You Please: a Lifetime of Dylan
Linn Washington Jr.
Bigots in Blue: Philadelphia Police Department is a Home For Hate
David Macaray
UAW Faces Its Moment of Truth
Brian Cloughley
Trump’s Washington Detests the Belt and Road Initiative
Horace G. Campbell
Edward Seaga and the Institutionalization of Thuggery, Violence and Dehumanization in Jamaica
Graham Peebles
Zero Waste: The Global Plastics Crisis
Michael Schwalbe
Oppose Inequality, Not Cops
Ron Jacobs
Scott Noble’s History of Resistance
Olivia Alperstein
The Climate Crisis is Also a Health Emergency
David Rosen
Time to Break Up the 21st Century Tech Trusts
George Wuerthner
The Highest Use of Public Forests: Carbon Storage
Ralph Nader
It is Time to Rediscover Print Newspapers
Nick Licata
How SDS Imploded: an Inside Account
Rachel Smolker – Anne Peterman
The GE American Chestnut: Restoration of a Beloved Species or Trojan Horse for Tree Biotechnology?
Sam Pizzigati
Can Society Survive Without Empathy?
Manuel E. Yepe
China and Russia in Strategic Alliance
Patrick Walker
Green New Deal “Climate Kids” Should Hijack the Impeachment Conversation
Colin Todhunter
Encouraging Illegal Planting of Bt Brinjal in India
Robert Koehler
The Armed Bureaucracy
David Swanson
Anyone Who’d Rather Not be Shot Should Read this Book
Jonathan Power
To St. Petersburg With Love
Marc Levy
How to Tell a Joke in Combat
Thomas Knapp
Pork is Not the Problem
Manuel García, Jr.
Global Warming and Solar Minimum: a Response to Renee Parsons
Jill Richardson
Straight People Don’t Need a Parade
B. R. Gowani
The Indian Subcontinent’s Third Partition
Adolf Alzuphar
Diary: The Black Body in LA
Jonah Raskin
‘69 and All That Weird Shit
Michael Doliner
My Surprise Party
Stephen Cooper
The Fullness of Half Pint
Charles R. Larson
Review: Chris Arnade’s “Dignity: Seeking Respect in Back Row America”
David Yearsley
Sword and Sheath Songs
FacebookTwitterRedditEmail