(Portland, OR) Following a recent trip to Standing Rock Indian Reservation to deliver wood stoves, clothing, food and other supplies in support of the “water protectors” from the Standing Rock Sioux Indian Reservation, members of the Portland-area Climate Action Coalition (CAC) decided they needed to do more. With a potentially brutal winter coming on, CAC members decided the Standing Rock Sioux and their supporters needed a sturdy form of shelter that could be made available for injured, sick, or hypothermic water protectors. So they raised sufficient funds–with small donations given by individuals– to buy and retrofit a school bus, turning it into what they call the “bunk bus,” which will be equipped for use by medics. The outside of the bus has been painted with murals with the assistance of well-known Native American artists–including a Standing Rock Sioux painter–and others from Portland’s Native American Youth and Family Center, while carpenters and other crafts-people have donated their labor.
The water protectors and their supporters have set up a nonviolent encampment in protest against plans by Energy Transfer Partners to build the Dakota Access Pipeline through territory they claim includes sacred burial grounds, while posing a grave risk to their water supply should it traverse the nearby Missouri River. Their nonviolent protests have been met with heavily armed police, private contractors and National Guard troops firing rubber bullets, spraying tear gas and using attack dogs on the protestors. The nearest hospital is many miles away.
Members of the Portland area CAC, who have done their own forms of nonviolent civil disobedience–including blockading Shell’s icebreaker, the Fennica, when it came to Portland in July 2015, and risking arrest blockading oil trains–wanted to show solidarity with the Standing Rock Sioux. Members of CAC are available for interviews; professional quality photos are available in advance of the departure of the medical bus to North Dakota. The bus is expected to depart on November 11, 2016.