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A local Navy veteran is raising money so he and other former military members can travel to Standing Rock, North Dakota, to protect demonstrators protesting the Dakota Access Pipeline Project.

Ivan Sam, a Navajo and former president of the American Indian Warriors Association, said via fundraising website that he and a group of fellow veterans planned to “assemble as peaceful, unarmed, Water Protectors at the Standing Rock Indian Reservation” from Sunday through Wednesday of next week. Sam served two tours of duty during Operation Desert Storm as a Navy aviation electrician.

“As a continuous advocate for the overall well-being for our people, I feel it is necessary and important as a veteran to continue to carry on my duty to protect and serve `The People’ as I have sworn into (oath) many years ago — I still try to live up to those expectations,” he said.
Sam had raised $3,375 of his $10,000 goal as of 7:30 a.m.

More than 30 local veterans plan to act as a human shield to protect those protesting the 1,172-mile pipeline from North Dakota to Illinois from security officers, who had used rubber bullets, tear gas and water in attempts to disperse the crowd, 10News reported.

“The treatment that the Lakota people are receiving right now, the treatment that the water protectors are getting, the mistreatment, that’s inhumane,” Sam told the television station.

Protests over the oil pipeline’s construction have been underway for months. The pipeline would cross Lake Oahe and the Missouri River about 10 miles from the Standing Rock Reservation, which has prompted concerns that a spill would jeopardize the Sioux tribe’s water source, and could potentially tear through sacred land.

—City News Service