Mid-Missouri group collects supplies to support Dakota Access Pipeline protesters
COLUMBIA — The Columbia Protectors of Water and Land held an event Saturday in support of those protesting the Dakota Access Pipeline in North and South Dakota.
The group was started in mid-September by co-founder Perry Bigsoldier.
"It's to raise awareness about the Dakota Access Pipeline and the threat that it imposes on the Missouri River and approximately 18 million people," he said.
The group also accepted donations to send to those camping and protesting at the Standing Rock Indian Reservation in North and South Dakota.
Bigsoldier said they need items like building supplies, heavy clothing and non-perishable food to help get the reservation through the winter.
"I don't know that people really understand how important it is to those people," Bigsoldier said.
Bigsoldier paid a visit to Standing Rock in October to help bring more supplies, but did not go to the front lines.
"I knew if I went to the front lines where the actual line of protectors are, I would probably be one of those that ended up in handcuffs. Only because I'm just that passionate about it and I don't have the ability to put my chill on," he said.
Bigsoldier said his part is to work in Columbia to raise awareness and send supplies. But he said the experience changed him.
"Being on a camping spot where they had camped for thousands of years prior was also very spiritual. I mean, you could just feel it," Bigsoldier said.
Laura Wacker is another member of the group and leaves Sunday to head up to Standing Rock for the first time. She's traveling with five other people to take supplies the Columbia Protectors of Water and Land have protected.
"It's a little scary the first time you decide to do it, but everybody that's come back says it's life changing," Wacker said.
Saturday's event had live music, food and speeches from those who wanted to contribute to the conversation.
Bigsoldier said the group has more events in the works, and will post details on their Facebook page when they have them.