At Least 2,000 Veterans Arrive at Standing Rock to Protest Dakota Pipeline

Authorities have warned that protesters would be arrested starting Monday.

— -- At least 2,000 U.S. military veterans have arrived at Standing Rock amid frigid cold to help battle against the Dakota Access oil pipeline.

The vets, led by Wesley Clark Jr., son of retired general and former presidential candidate Wesley Clark, began arriving in force today to help protest against the controversial crude oil pipeline project in North Dakota.

But protesters and their supporters have shown little inclination to back down. Donations to a GoFundMe account launched by Clark in support of Veterans for Standing Rock, a group he claims will "assemble as a peaceful, unarmed militia at the Standing Rock Indian Reservation," have passed the $1 million dollar mark, coming from more than 24,000 individual donors, according to a page promoting the cause.

Standing Rock protesters have described the veterans' mission as serving as a kind of "human shield" between peaceful demonstrators and police.

Clark posted an image to his Twitter account Dec. 1 with a photo of the American flag folded along his dashboard with a wintry Western sky in the background. Accompanying the image, Clark wrote: "We're coming."

"Seeing so many veterans show up," Hulse said. "Out here, it's brotherhood."

Hulse added that the goal of protecting Native American protesters at the site is "a frightening task," but he said he hopes to serve as a witness.

"Violence will not end violence," he said. "Peace will end violence."

Hulse said a 90-year-old man is among the veterans who have arrived at Standing Rock.

A GoFundMe account seeking assistance for Wilansky's medical treatment has brought in more than $417,000 to date.

Native American groups and environmental activists have been protesting since summer to block construction of the 1,172-mile pipeline that is slated to cut across four states and transport crude oil from North Dakota's oil fields to refinery markets in Illinois. The activists, who call themselves "water protectors," say that the pipeline traverses culturally sacred sites and poses a risk to the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe's water supply.

North Dakota Gov. Jack Dalrymple issued an emergency evacuation order for the site after the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers gave protesters until Dec. 5 to leave Corps-managed land.

“This week is the anniversary of the Sand Creek Massacre. It’s time for the United States to end its legacy of abuses against Native Americans," Archambault said in a statement Thursday. “As a tribal nation, we call on the president to take all the appropriate steps to ensure water protectors are safe and that their rights to free speech and peaceful assembly are protected."

Archambault said this weekend that he has accepted the governor's invitation to meet about the pipeline but no date had yet been set, according to the Bismarck Tribune.

Kelcy Warren, CEO of Energy Transfer Partners, the Texas-based company behind the Dakota Pipeline, has argued that concerns about its potential to pollute water are unfounded.

He also wrote in an internal memo to staff in September that "multiple archaeological studies conducted with state historic preservation offices found no sacred items along the route," suggesting that the construction of the pipeline would not affect Native Americans who live in the area where it is being built.