Linfield students return from North Dakota protests

Elizabeth Stoeger, Staff Writer

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Sunday December 4 the Army Corps of Engineers announced that they would not approve construction permits for the Dakota Access Pipeline and would instead explore other routes.

Though they were not there to witness the moment, the group of 11 Linfield students who made the 40-hour round trip van ride to the site of the protests played a tangible role in this action playing out in North Dakota.

Now back at Linfield, the group hopes to produce a video to be shown at a future PLACE event about the entire process of the trip, planning through their return. Videographer Kyle Huizinga, ’18, traveled with them and documented the trip.

While at Standing Rock, the group largely helped with some of the physical labor needed to help run the camp .

Peri Muellner, ‘18, said they mostly helped in the kitchens, medical tent, and with sorting donations.

For all the attention and continuing reports of violence at the camp, the mood was largely tranquil. “The feeling I got there was peaceful. It was primarily a place of prayer, and you could just tell that everyone there was supporting each other and there to work for a common goal,” said Muellner.

She said,  “the most rewarding part was being there, all together, anyway. Everyone was so nice and willing to accept our help.”

Part of the reason this group decided to actually go to Standing Rock instead of only posting about it on social media was to show the Linfield student body that there was more to be done. They wanted to exemplify that if students are passionate enough, physically going to the place is the best option.

“I think I’ll take away from this the courage to join in other movements. I’m so glad I got to be a part of this,” said Muellner.

Another facet of the trip was garnering support from ASLC. The ASLC Senate, not to be confused with ASLC Cabinet, officially stood in solidarity with Standing Rock.

The statement read, “In response to the cultural, environmental, social and economic injustice taking place at the Standing Rock reservation in Cannon Ball North Dakota, we, the Associated Students of Linfield College, recognize our responsibility as an institution that values equality, diversity, sustainability and basic human rights, to publicly stand in support of and in solidarity with the Indigenous peoples who actively oppose the Dakota Access Pipeline.”

Vice President of Programming for ASLC, Cruz Morey, ‘17, addressed the huge backlash that came with this clear political statement. “I urge everyone (on both sides of whatever coin), to look at the support given to Linfield students who went to Standing Rock, with a different lens. In this highly political time, we should want everyone to express their views (whether we agree with them or not) and maybe learn new insights from them,” Morey said.

Because the group from Linfield was going, not to participate in the protests but to give food, clothing, and support to those who needed it and they plan to tell the Linfield community of their experiences, Morey saw no reason to withhold ASLC support.

“Personally, I 100% support the students who went to Standing Rock because, if anything, they were seeking to be active members of our society and Linfield community,” he said.

“As of right now, they are the only Linfield members, that I know of, that have gone to Standing Rock meaning that, because I am not capable of going and seeing what is occurring first hand, I am highly curious to see what they have to say about the situation,” said Morey.

For Muellner, the trip and its outcome was entirely uncertain in the beginning but pleasantly turned out to be an extremely valuable experience.

“I had no idea what to expect for this trip, which was probably good to go into it with an open mind. It was so worth it,” said Muellner.

Morey said, “I encourage every Linfield student to become active members of their society and seek to try and make a difference within themselves, if not the world.”