During the months of unrest from the Dakota Access Pipeline protests, Jim Schmidt was right in the middle. Not only as a farmer, he also represents the rural area in the North Dakota legislature.
“You have to take a different perspective. And what you have to do, you have to ensure that the perspective you take represents what their feelings are. And sometimes that’s difficult to get because the communications at this point in time are not what they used to be,” said Schmidt.
Even though the protesters are gone, the area is not back to normal. There are ranchers that lease land from the tribe, and Schmidt says he’s aware of some problems with a couple of those partnerships.
He added, “I think the residue of the whole scenario is the relationship between those of us that are neighbors to Standing Rock Sioux Tribe and those tribal members. And I think that’s going to take a while before that relationship gets back to what it was.”
On the legislative side, there were a few bills introduced that had relation to the protests. They dealt with protesters in the road, trespassing, and wearing face masks. Some other lawmakers called these failed bills knee-jerk reactions.
“Those individuals that classified them should come down here and experience that and meet with these farmers and ranchers and sit there and tell them that this was knee jerk. And some of my colleagues that claimed it to be a knee jerk type of legislation don’t live here,” expressed Schmidt.
Schmidt says he firmly believes relations will eventually return to normal, it will just take some time.