Festival honors Standing Rock water protectorsBy Richie Richards
Native Sun News Today Correspondent
nativesunnews.today PIEDMONT –– The Black Hills Unity Concert honored several invited guests for their various contributions to tribal nations, community leadership and environmental activism. Among those being honored were the Water Protectors of Standing Rock; who played many roles from security to cooks, entertainment to educators, throughout the movement. Melaine Stoneman spoke prior to the honoring ceremony held for the Water Protectors on Saturday of the three-day event which was held Sept. 8-10 in Piedmont at the Elk Creek Resort campgrounds. During her presentation, Stoneman discussed the effects of the NODAPL (No Dakota Access Pipe Line) protest which ran from spring 2016 to late winter 2017; depending on the time frame when the camps were closed and water protectors were made to leave. According to Stoneman, the men and women who come from all walks of life and age ranges, suffer from PTSD from the traumatic experiences of the NODAPL protest movement. “They are hurting. Many of them (water protectors) suffer from PTSD,” Stoneman told the crowd of nearly 200 in attendance. As the many agencies sought to remove the water protectors from the camps and surrounding fields and roadways, they were doused by tear gas, water cannons, pepper spray and other chemicals. Many were attacked by security dogs and those who were not directly hit, were witness to their fellow-brethren being attacked. Over 50 water protectors lined the front of the stage to be honored, as the festival attendees lined up to shake their hands, provide comforting hugs and gratitude. The water protectors present were Native and non-Native, old and young, and many were in tears as they accepted their honoring of gratitude. This year’s event was the last of a four-year run for the Black Hills Unity Concert to be held locally.
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