Christmas Arrives for Hundreds of Hunkered Down Standing Rock Water Protectors

Christmas Eve at the camp

Published December 25, 2016

CANNON BALL, NORTH DAKOTA – Even though the winter solstice officially arrived at 5:44 a.m. this past Wednesday morning, it has already been a long winter for the water protectors, who have opposing the Dakota Access pipeline near the Standing Rock Indian Reservation. For most of December, water protectors have faced fierce snowstorms, coupled with the harsh prairie winds, that have brought windchill temperatures well below zero, water protectors are enjoying Christmas in the warmth of camp fires, propane heaters and generosity of thousands across Indian Country and beyond.

Headsman B.J. and Sprague at the Pueblo camps on Christmas Eve.

Lee Sprague, a former ogema (tribal chair) of the Little River Band of Ottawa Indians, has settled into his home away from home. He is among the hundreds living in the encampments this winter.

Sprague, who arrived at the Oceti Sakowin camp in early November, lives in a tent, among other tents that make up the Pueblo camps. Sprague, who has daughters who are are half Pueblo, is among 20 people who are living there during this winter.

“The price of water and the price of peace are known by the water protectors here at Standing Rock. We wish for peace to all who breathe the same air as we do. This, includes the Energy Transfer Partners, Dakota Access Pipeline oil workers and the Morton County Sheriff’s Department,” says Sprague. “We all should be spending time with our families. Our children share the same breath, and the same future. Their great-grandchildren will look at these days with smiles. We all live peacefully for their good lives.”

“Peace has many facets, the absence of war is not peace. Peace is absolute truth and justice. Peace for the water protectors and peace for future generations is difficult for America to realize in Standing Rock,” Sprague continues.

On Christmas Eve, the Pueblo campers made dozens of luminarias to line the pathway to bring the Christmas spirit to the camp.

A longtime New Mexico tradition, the Pueblo campers lined pathways with luminarias


Sprague’s grandson, Talon spent his Christmas Eve helping with the luminarias.

On Christmas, the Pueblo camps is preparing a meal to feed 50 people. Its Christmas dinner menu includes: fresh deer meat, elk, rabbit, fried chicken, red & green chili peppers from New Mexico, wild rice, dried cherries, maple syrup, potato salad, pinto beans and homemade bread. Dessert will include: cake, blueberry pie and apple pie.

After celebrating Christmas, Sprague will back on duty with Michigan canoe cold water rescue team. He has taken time off from his position as an adjunct professor at the Saginaw Chippewa Tribal College in Mt. Pleasant, Michigan to give his time as a water protector.

Please consider a donation this holiday season to assist. CLICK HERE to got the link to learn more about the rescue team.


Dave Winkler, Freyja Anders and Lee Sprague. Carl from Washington State in front.



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