Dale Goodner, a veteran of the Wisconsin National Guard and retired from the Peoria Park District where he was chief naturalist and supervisor of environmental and interpretive services, now lives in Wisconsin. He sent this letter to the North Dakota National Guard and shared it with Community Word:
To North Dakota National Guard:
As a Wisconsin National Guard Veteran, I’m very concerned. The North Dakota National Guard is alleged to have fired rubber bullets and water cannons at the people at Standing Rock. It’s November! But even if it were warm mid summer, this reaction would be indefensible. We were always instructed to use minimum force to calm the situation… this is in violation of a fundamental principle of service to the people.
Frankly, if this action is true… I’m embarrassed, frustrated, and angered at this behavior. We are the Good Guys!! Our mission is NOT to serve corporate power. We serve the people!
These folks have a right and a responsibility to make their feelings known… to protest peacefully. Please have your soldiers review the Guard’s proud history and current mission… and reevaluate your important role in this conflict.
Goodner told Community Word a spokesperson for the North Dakota National Guard responded and assured him its role has been solely as backup to the police. Goodner said he’s relieved, but if it gets out of hand and the people at Standing Rock are being injured, disrespected or mistreated, then any intervention should be on behalf of the protesters, protecting them and their civil rights. The National Guard, he said, needs to be a source of national pride.
Editors Note: The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers announced it will close the site of the pipeline protest. Following Dec. 5, anyone at the site will be prosecuted. In a letter to the tribe, John W. Henderson, a district commander with the Corps, wrote:
“I am closing the portion of the Corps-managed federal property north of the Cannonball River to all public use and access effective Dec. 5, 2016.
“This decision is necessary to protect the general public from the violent confrontations between protestors and law enforcement officials that have occurred in this area, and to prevent death, illness, or serious injury to inhabitants of encampments due to the harsh North Dakota winter conditions.”
Standing Rock Sioux Tribe’s chairman, Dave Archambault II, released a statement saying that the tribe is deeply disappointed by the move but it has not changed its resolve to prevent the pipeline from being built north of reservation lands.
“It is both unfortunate and ironic that this announcement comes the day after this country celebrates Thanksgiving – a historic exchange of goodwill between Native Americans and the first immigrants from Europe. Although the news is saddening, it is not at all surprising given the last 500 years of the treatment of our people. We have suffered much, but we still have hope that the President will act on his commitment to close the chapter of broken promises to our people and especially our children.”