The mood at the camp packed with protesters of the Dakota Access Pipeline was joyous but wary on Sunday, according to students from Haskell Indian Nations University in Lawrence who traveled there late last week to show solidarity.
“Everyone is in a very good mood, we’re singing victory songs,” Jessica Arkeketa, a junior, told The Star by telephone after learning that the Army Corps of Engineers will not approve an easement for the pipeline to cross under Lake Oahe in North Dakota. “There are cheers of joy.”
The protesters have stood behind the Standing Rock Sioux to block the oil pipeline out of concern that leaks would pollute the water supply and harm sacred lands.
Cante England, also a junior, said there were still more than 100 vehicles trying to get into the camp.
“There’s really good energy right now,” she said. “Everyone is singing, celebrating and praying.”
Freshman Zachary Cling, who also is a veteran, said he was heartened to see so many other veterans join the protesters. He said he was “pretty surprised” by the announcement from the Corps.
“I thought it was going to take more,” he said. “It’s a real proud day for indigenous people across the world.”
But the students said law enforcement helicopters continued to fly over the camp and large “sleep deprivation” lights continue to try to make conditions uncomfortable for them.
“Until these lights come down I wouldn’t call it over,” said Arkeketa.
The students planned to head back to Kansas later Sunday night to resume their studies.