The camp housing protesters of the Dakota Access Pipeline have come to resemble a small city with "streets" crisscrossing the prairie between the tents, teepees, and quickly-erected shacks where the protestors have dug themselves in, according to photos and videos posted by reporters on the ground.
Thousands of protesters have gathered in Cannon Ball, North Dakota since August to protest the building of the Dakota Access Pipeline, a proposed 1,172-mile pipeline enabling North Dakota-produced oil reach refining markets in Illinois.
USA Today estimates that there are between 1,000 and 3,000 protestors living in the camp. Another 2,000 veterans are set to join the protestors, as well as relieve those who have endured weeks of sub-zero temperatures.
Here's New York Times reporter Jack Healy's video from the camp:
The "streets" are a grid of ice. Sounds of generators, drumming, chainsaws. Parades of arriving cars adding to thousands already here. pic.twitter.com/mkufx0jpKq— jack healy (@jackhealyNYT) December 2, 2016
The federal government announced in November that they would close public access to the area on December 5, but authorities have since said they don't have plans to forcibly remove activists.
While the protests have mostly been peaceful, there's been clashes with local police and authorities on a number of occassions. In late November, police sprayed water cannons on protesters and deployed tear gas cannisters in below-freezing temperatures. Morton County Sheriff Kyle Kirchmeier said in a press conference that the water cannon was used to "repel" protest activities when demonstrators became "aggressive." Activists maintain they were peacefully demonstrating at the time.
The protests began because the pipeline is set to run beneath the Standing Rock Sioux reservation in North Dakota. The protestors' chief concern, beyond fossil fuel emissions, is that the pipeline may contaminate drinking water and habitats across the entire Missouri River basin.
Here's New York Times reporter Jack Healy's view from on the ground:
It's 28 degrees at the Oceti Sakowin camp, and pipeline opponents are building yurts, huts, insulated lodges and hunkering down for winter pic.twitter.com/TWUCmUYSQW— jack healy (@jackhealyNYT) December 2, 2016
Cusi Ballew, a Potawatomi member from southern Ohio ("I'm the whitest person in my family") builds a bunkhouse for the winter. pic.twitter.com/dBeTxNGcwT— jack healy (@jackhealyNYT) December 2, 2016
This is Ron King Williamson, 22, from the Crow Reservation in Montana. He and these kids were blazing down an icy hill on their sleds. pic.twitter.com/NDSnX4jh1t— jack healy (@jackhealyNYT) December 2, 2016
Video by New York Times reporter shows just how massive the Standing Rock protest camp is posted first on http://lawpallp.tumblr.com