National Nurses United has recently deployed a second group of volunteers to help on the Standing Rock Sioux Reservation. As the conflict grows, this brave group of volunteers has vowed to support protestors with medical aid
“As a nurse, I understand the necessity of preserving and protecting our water. Water equals life, and the Dakota Access pipeline threatens the health and well-being of millions of Americans,” said RN volunteer Amy Bowen in an interview with a local news crew.
What is the DAPL?
The Dakota Access Pipeline (DAPL) is a project that spans over one thousand miles. Designed to transfer oil from the northwest oil fields in North Dakota to an oil farm and refinery in Illinois, the project has come under fire for the potential risk of contaminating water sources as well as disturbing sacred ground.
The latter is where the Standing Rock Sioux Reservation comes in. The tribe believes that the pipeline would put their water source, the Missouri River in jeopardy. With over 150 arrests to date and numerous of harsh treatment from police officers (protesters were arrested, pepper sprayed, and had a sound cannon used against them in an escalated crackdown of the protesters who want to put an end to the pipeline’s construction) many fear further escalation could turn deadly.
What Can Nurses Do?
As tension rises, many of these nurses are joining the protest as a precaution. On these reservations, medical aid is often miles away, and if anything happens it would be tough to get protestors the proper treatment. National Nurses United is also using this situation to show solidarity with the community.
“This has become a seminal battle over the First Amendment protection of public protest. It is also a challenge for everyone who is concerned about the rights of First Nation people and their sacred sites and water sources, as well as the threat the pipeline poses to environmental degradation, public health, and to accelerating the climate crisis,” said NNU Co-President Jean Ross, RN.
National Nurses United is always accepting applicants, so if you’d like to join the organization, visit their website to sign up.
Only time will tell just how far the DAPL situation escalates in the coming weeks. It’s been almost two months since the protests started and tensions remain very high. Fortunately, support and awareness have been growing in the last few weeks, with numerous tribes, organizations, and politicians joining the movement.
With the recent election finally concluding, only time will tell how this dispute is settled.