Pitching In At The Pipeline Protest

Dec 9, 2016
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STEVE INSKEEP, HOST:

We have a story next from inside a North Dakota blizzard. Our colleague Nathan Rott has been covering protesters who oppose the Dakota Access Pipeline.

RACHEL MARTIN, HOST:

And that left him, like others, seeking shelter from the storm.

NATHAN ROTT, BYLINE: You can't see much in a white-out blizzard, can't feel much either after a while. But this is what it sounds like.

(SOUNDBITE OF WIND BLOWING)

ROTT: And if you're sleeping in the back of your rental car like I was, that sound means it's time to go. Some people hunkered down near the contested part of the pipeline vowing not to leave after the blizzard hit. I was not one of them, so I headed to the tiny town of Cannon Ball a few miles down the road. And after crashing on the floor of a pavilion at a casino with a bunch of other journalists, protesters and veterans...

KOLBY: Hello.

ROTT: ...A local offered me a place to stay.

JOYCE WOOD: My name is Joyce wood.

ROTT: And that voice you heard was her son Kolby.

What grade you in?

KOLBY: Second.

ROTT: Your favorite subject?

KOLBY: Science.

ROTT: What do you want to be when you grow up? Do you know?

KOLBY: Science guy.

ROTT: Science guy.

Wood has been opening up her house to protesters, visitors and journalists like me since April, offering laundry, showers and a place to crash if you don't mind the floor and playing a little hide and go seek. Because with her kids, she can't be out at the protest site.

What do you see as your role during this whole thing?

WOOD: Help in any way I can. And along with that, I can teach my children how to give and help where they're needed.

ROTT: It hasn't been easy. Kolby has autism and likes things to stay the same. His older brother Malachi is a ball of energy. And just three weeks ago, Wood gave birth to a baby girl. But things are hardly ever easy at Standing Rock. Woods says that meth and alcoholism are big problems on the reservation. There are the years-old conflicts that can develop between people in a tiny town, but with something to rally against, she says, a lot of that has changed.

WOOD: Families that haven't spoke to each other in years - they're standing together again, and they're talking again.

ROTT: Wood and the tribe scored a big victory last week when the federal government announced it would not approve construction on the last section of the pipeline just upriver from their home. But she knows that the pipeline company is fighting that decision, and that it could be reversed. No matter what happens, she says, she hopes that her community stays united. Nathan Rott, NPR News. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.