Pipeline protesters garner support in Spokane

Pipeline protesters garner support in Spokane

SPOKANE, Wash. - Tension remains high in North Dakota, as the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe continues to protest the Dakota Access Oil Pipeline. The pipeline would run through four states and under the Missouri river. Supporters of the pipeline say it will not harm the local environment, but protesters worry that it could disturb sacred tribal lands.

The Standing Rock Sioux Tribe's efforts have caught the attention of the country. The group has been shown support all across the country, including in Spokane.

KXLY spoke to a few Native Americans from the Spokane area who say the Dakota Access Pipeline will have negative impacts on the environment. They say this isn't an issue that affects just Native Americans, or just people in North Dakota, but that it is a humanity issue and something we all should be paying attention to.

It started with protecting the land and water, but turned into much more.

"Let's not talk about how Native Americans are affected by it, but how American Society is affected by this," said Jacob Johns, a Spokane resident and member of the An akimel O'Othm (Gile River Pima) and Hopi tribes. Johns spent six days at the protests during the summer.

According to the tribe, thousands of people from more than 200 Native American Tribes have supported the protests with the goal of stopping the pipeline.

"My concern is it's going to ruin the land and everything that's sacred to the people that live there," said Donell Barlow, who lives in Spokane and is part of the Ottawa tribe.

Barlow also made the trip to North Dakota, and says she felt spiritually compelled to go help at the camp's kitchen.

"It was definitely life changing," she said. "As soon as I got there I felt the unity and power and I'd like to say it's a spiritual movement going on out there."

"If you could go back in time and prevent Flint, Michigan from happening, I guarantee people would," Johns said. "So this is a preemptive step to stop that from ever taking place."

And others like Iaitia Farrell, a member of the Standing Rock Tribe who has family in North Dakota, are working to raise awareness here at home.

"Every day when I walk and I talk and I speak, it's to bring awareness about that and to pray, it's always based toward that," Farrell said, who explained she makes an effort to keep her peers at Rogers High School informed.

It's not just Native Americans joining in the movement. Nationally, multiple environmental groups have spoken out against the project.

Friends Lili'uolani Pickford, Sarah Olson, and Sky Siljeg drove through Spokane from Seattle on their way to deliver supplies to the protestors.

"To be another voice, and also to bring supplies, and help in as many ways as I can," said Siljeg.

Different people, different tribes, but all say they're a part of something bigger.

"We're out there protesting on behalf of the people who were for the pipeline," Johns said. "They don't realize we're out there fighting for each other, we are humanity trying to heal itself and save itself."

Johns and others plan to present to the Spokane City Council about the pipeline at the next council meeting.