In the fall of 2016, Marcus Mitchell traveled to North Dakota to join the peaceful “water protectors,” in their demonstration against the construction of the DAPL. As a Diné from the Navajo nation, he was answering the Great Sioux Nation’s call to peacefully stand in support of the Nation’s sovereignty and to help them protect their ancestral land and burial sites, as well as the threat to the environment and water posed by the construction of the pipeline.
One evening, when he observed law enforcement firing upon a crowd of water protectors, he placed himself in front of the women and elders of the group. Without justification, multiple officers fired upon him, shooting him in the face, leg and back of the head. He sustained severe injuries to his left eye and side of his face. Today, after multiple surgeries, he still suffers from loss of vision, hearing and smell, in addition to suffering chronic and debilitating pain on the left side of his face.
I went to Standing Rock to help the Standing Rock and the Sioux Nation’s people protect their sacred lands and identity. It hurt me deeply to see law enforcement officers shoot, mace and hose unarmed Indigenous women, children and elders. It wasn’t right and I had to help the people.