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Colorado woman shows opposition to pipeline through speech, sign language Submitted: 12/02/2016

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CANNON BALL, NORTH DAKOTA - The colder months can't stop the thousands of Native and non-Native people from going to the Standing Rock Sioux reservation in North Dakota.

People from all over the world have come together to show their opposition of the Dakota Access Pipeline.

We traveled with a group from Lac du Flambeau to the Oceti Sakowin Camp near that pipeline earlier this month.


The moment tribal members began setting up camp, many of them went to a nearby deaf camp to help build a teepee.

Valerie Weimer's teepee is more than just the place where she slept while protesting in North Dakota.
"They were married for 50 years. This was their teepee they bought it 30 years ago," said Weimer.

Weimer talks about her grandparents as she holds a picture of them. She goes by the name "Little Flower" and is a fourth generation decendant of a survivor of the Trail of Tears.

"Imagine for a moment reservation life in 1900. You see what it's like now. Imagine what it was like in 1900," said Weimer.

Weimer didn't have to imagine what living on a reservation would be like. She's on one here. Weimer has spent a week at the Oceti Sakowin Camp near the Standing Rock Sioux reservation. Both are near the proposed Dakota Access Pipeline.

"We cry with everyone every day and we fight with everyone every day and we laugh with everyone every day. We just be here to be supportive," Weimer said.

Weimer's support comes from abilities as a translator.

"My foster daughters has helped me for this specific moment in time where I can be of service to so many deaf people," said Weimer.

Weimer has been raising deaf children in Colorado for nearly 30 years and now, she's using sign language to reach the thousands of people standing against the Dakota Access Pipeline.

"Hello my name is Anette. This is how you say my name. We've been here since Sunday. Been learning a lot. I've been gaining a lot of spiritual reflection and education to stand with the people for what is right," said Weimer as she translated for another woman.

Many of those people are also the ones, which helped Weimer and others in the deaf section of the camp together their teepee.

"That's how you do it in Colorado. You just throw the poles up and wrap them up and these other ladies stand back saying, 'You need some help,'" said Weimer.

Helping to get the teepee set up wasn't the only thing Weimer got.

"Told me the most amazing story about how the two poles in the back are your grandparents and the one poles in the front is you father and the other poles that you lay next to the doorway is your mother and that every poles is like a child and that you have to wrap them together," said Weimer.

The teepee poles tell a story and so does Weimer, when she talks about her purpose here.

"Stand with those that may be hurt. Supply the comfort that we can to as many as we can and that's my purpose here," said Weimer.

After helping Weimer finish her teepee, Lac du Flambeau tribal members built their wigwam with the help of others in the camp.


Story By: Allie Herrera

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