Dakota Access Pipeline protest draws crowd in Boise

Hundreds turned out on the Statehouse steps.

BOISE -- Hundreds gathered on the Statehouse steps to protest the Dakota Access Pipeline Friday, the same day a judge rejected the Standing Rock Sioux tribe's request for an injunction to block construction from moving forward.

Despite the judge's decision, authorities said they will temporarily halt the construction on federal land near Lake Oahe - a large reservoir on North Dakota's border with South Dakota - until the plan is reviewed further.

Opponents of the planned 1,172-mile pipeline, many of whom are tribal members, say Energy Transfer's project is disturbing sacred ground and unearthing burial sites and artifacts important to their culture.

If completed, the pipeline will move nearly half a million barrels of oil from the oil fields in North Dakota to join an existing pipeline in Illinois. In the process, it will extend across four states and under the Missouri River - the sole water source for the Standing Rock Sioux.

Lindsey Manning, a tribal chairman for the Shoshone Paiute Tribe at Duck Valley, said that's unacceptable.

"It doesn't make any sense to me that anybody could put the price of oil above the value of water," he said. "Water is invaluable."

Like many who gathered at Boise's protest, Manning said he felt the conflict is being ignored by media and elected officials. He said Gov. C.L. "Butch" Otter and others in government should join them in condemning the pipeline.

"For them not to speak out against something that's so harmful is almost unforgivable," he said.

Serra Frank of Boise also said she had concerns that an issue with the pipeline could result in the same devastation as Deepwater Horizon spill in 2010 or the Exxon Valdez spill in 1989.

"It would affect everything," she said. "If we don't stand up against this it will continue to happen over and over."

On their website for the $3.7 billion project, Energy Transfer writes they have routed the pipeline to minimize crossing sensitive environmental and cultural sites, and are committed to restoring any impacts to the land the pipeline crosses. The company also argues that a pipeline is constantly monitored and regulated to prevent leaks or other issues.

Frank said her husband traveled to North Dakota to a protest site that has drawn American Indians and other Dakota Access Pipeline opponents from across the country.

The protestors clashed with and security personnel clashed last Saturday, and the National Guard is on standby in case tensions flare further.

Manning said he was worried the protestors trying to block the pipeline will be met with violence.

"My biggest concern is that they're going to go in and kill some Indians," he said. "Someone's going to fire a bullet - that's my biggest concern, is they're going to kill these people. It's happened before."

The Boise protest featured traditional dancers and drummers in addition to the multitude of people waving flags and toting signs with messages like "Water is Life" and "No DAPL."

Sisters Kathy Gibson and Cindy Hall, also members of the Shoshone Paiute of the Duck Valley Reservation, said they were pleased with the large turnout.

"It's good to see all of our people here joining together as one," Gibson said.

Hall said she was especially excited to see young people drumming and standing up to speak to the assembled crowd.

"It's really heartwarming to see our young people take a stand," she said. "This is our seventh generation. They say this is our generation that's going to be the voice for our people."

Copyright 2016 KTVB


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