Pawhuska native Chris Turley is working his way north through Nebraska on his 1,000-mile walk to support protesters of the Dakota Access Pipeline at Standing Rock Indian Reservation.
Turley, a former Army scout of the 101st Airborne Division, is hoping his journey will also increase public awareness of veteran suicide programs.
Since he left town Nov. 17 (departing from the site of the James Bigheart Statue on the Osage Campus) Turley’s GoFundMe account (http://www.gofundme.com/walktostandingrock) has received nearly $4,000 in donations. The funds have come from people across the country who have been attracted to his causes. The proceeds, he said, will be donated to veteran-support groups and the protest effort at Standing Rock.
“Anyone who knows me knows I am a warrior of this country, I love it with all my heart,” Turley recently wrote on his Facebook page. “I am also a Native of this country and im showing my support for Standing Rock.
“On one side of my pack is the Osage Nation flag and on the other side is the U.S. flag,” he continued. “I am walking in support of Standing Rock. I am walking for those that can’t. I am walking for those who continue a daily struggle with thoughts of taking their own lives. I am walking for my fellow veterans. I am walking for those deployed right now.”
After being wounded in a firefight in Afghanistan during Operation Enduring Freedom, Turley received a Purple Heart and a commendation for valor. He spent more than a year undergoing rehabilitation, during which time he was told he might never be able to run again.
Turley has traveled more than 350 miles on his walking mission to Sacred Stone Camp, N.D., where the leaders of the oil pipeline protest were recently warned that sub-zero weather will soon be arriving. They’ve also been told the Army Corps of Engineers may force them off the government land they are occupying.
They’ve also been told about an Army veteran from Pawhuska who is on his way to support their cause.