‘I can’t stand back any more’

Central Otago Mirror - - OUT & ABOUT - RHYS CHAM­BER­LAIN

When Nick Cowan be­lieves in some­thing, he doesn’t just talk about it, he takes ac­tion.

On Satur­day, the 24-year-old Lon­doner, now liv­ing in Queen­stown, trav­elled 13,500km to North Dakota to join 10,000 oth­ers in sub­zero tem­per­a­tures at a protest camp at Stand­ing Rock.

Cowan saw the images, read the sto­ries and de­cided to join the ‘‘peace­ful’’ fight to stop an oil pipe­line run­ning through sacred Na­tive Amer­i­can land. He’s fund­ing the eight week trip him­self and is all too aware of the dan­gers.

‘‘I just feel that enough is enough and I can’t stand back any more. I be­lieve in peo­ple and I be­lieve that peo­ple have the power to change so much.’’

The -30degC tem­per­a­tures at the camp, re­ports of po­lice and pri­vate se­cu­rity bru­tal­ity in­clud­ing send­ing ‘‘at­tack dogs’’ into the crowd and dous­ing pro­test­ers with wa­ter canons, was some­thing Cowan was pre­pared for.

The Stand­ing Rock Sioux tribe and its sup­port­ers at Oceti Sakowin en­camp­ment are push­ing to reroute the Dakota Ac­cess oil pipe­line away from Lake Oahe, a tribal wa­ter source.

De­spite the US Army Corps of En­gi­neers re­fus­ing the com­pany per­mis­sion to ex­tend the pipe­line, pro­test­ers pledged to re­main.

‘‘They [the com­pany] have no plans in stop­ping,’’ Cowan said. ’’The campers are go­ing nowhere [ei­ther].’’

SUP­PLIED

Queen­stown man Nick Cowan trav­elled to North Dakota to join the oil pipe­line protest at Stand­ing Rock. Girl­friend Paula Boet­trich is proud but wor­ried for his safety.

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