The public outcry against the Dakota Access Pipeline has been joined by a group of youth, both Native and non-Native, who are running a 500-mile spiritual relay this week from Cannonball, North Dakota to the district office of the United States Army Corps of Engineers in Omaha, Nebraska.
“We ask that everyone stand with us against this threat to our health, our culture, and our sovereignty,” said the group in a statement. “We ask that everyone who lives on or near the Missouri River and its tributaries, everyone who farms or ranches in the local area, and everyone who cares about clean air and clean drinking water stand with us against the Dakota Access Pipeline!”
Native and non-Native youth are running together to draw attention to the $3.4 billion pipeline, which would transfer about half a million barrels of crude daily across 1,134 miles. It would start at the Bakken oil fields in western North Dakota and wind southeast through South Dakota and Iowa to Illinois, where it would connect to an already-existing pipeline with access to the Gulf of Mexico.
The runners, from across North Dakota, South Dakota, Nebraska and Iowa, left the Cannonball community on April 24 and are set to arrive in Omaha on May 3. The event, “Run For Your Life: No DAPL,” and features runners “comprised of concerned citizens,” the Indigenous Environmental Network said.
“The intention of the run is to deliver a unified statement to the USACE in resistance to the oil pipeline that proposed to cross beneath sacred water needed for life,” the Indigenous Environmental Network said in its statement. “The runners will also turn over a petition calling for a full EIS to be conducted on the Bakken pipeline.”
“I run for every man, woman and child that was, that is, and for those who will come to be,” runner Jasilyn Charger, Cheyenne River Sioux, said in the organizers’ statement. “I run for my life, because I want to live.”
The young runners have been joined, figuratively, by three federal agencies, all of which wrote letters to the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers citing the potential danger to Standing Rock Sioux drinking water and asking for a full environmental review.
Native pipeline opposition welcomed the support.
“The Dakota Access Pipeline is going to affect everyone,” said Manape LaMere, a community organizer for the Nebraska segment of the run, in the Indigenous Environmental Network statement. “These issues have been faced by Reservations since they were created. The Dakota Access Pipeline is now facing everyone…. We need to stand for water.”