Prairie Knights becomes shelter for DAPL protesters during blizzard

By  | 

FT. YATES, N.D. - Many North Dakotans were pretty certain that as soon as the North Dakota winter hit, Dakota Access Pipeline protesters from out of state would hit the road.

Some of them did, others remained at the camp. And then there were those who either got caught by the storm or just wanted a warmer place to be.

Prairie Knights Casino and Resort typically houses guests in rooms. But Tuesday night was different.

"There was just bodies everywhere, and it wasn't just in the pavilion, it was just kind of everywhere in the casino. Yeah, kind of in the hotel and out here and in there," says a demonstrator from Sisseton, South Dakota.

The Pavilion Room became a storm shelter for several hundred people. The general manager says protesters and some people unable to pass through the area took shelter there.

"It was an extraordinary event this past few days. It was life-threatening - that's why we took the measures we did to make sure people were warm, that they had someplace to go," says Everett Iron Eyes, Prairie Knights Casino and Resort General Manager.

Iron Eyes says they had enough food but ran out of gas for a short period of time. Wednesday morning, the truck was able to make a delivery, but he says if the storm lasted any longer, they may have encountered problems.

Snow, high wind and below zero temperatures aren't keeping people away from the protest camp, and some say demonstrators are still coming here.

"There's a lot of people who stayed, granted they were a little cold from, a lot of my friends and relatives that are down there, they are still down there, you know, they're not, they're still there," says the South Dakota demonstrator.

While she is heading back to South Dakota, she says she will be back.

Schools and community centers near the casino also became shelters during the storm.