Approximately 19 citizens of the Nez Perce Tribe were arrested Tuesday on suspicion of disorderly conduct for blocking U.S. Highway 12 in Idaho in protest of a 322-ton water purification vessel headed for Alberta, Canada.
According to Reuters, more than 250 protesters, mostly Native Americans, met police in the middle of the two-lane highway where the Omega Morgan megaload was scheduled to pass through 70-miles of the Nez Perce reservation.
Tuesday’s protest and subsequent arrests was the culmination of an ideological dispute between the Nez Perce and Kearl Module Transportation Project – a subsidiary of ExxonMobile.
Earlier this year, the Nez Perce Tribal Executive Committee passed a resolution officially opposing the transportation of the megaload mining equipment. Tuesday’s delivery is one of an estimated 200 planned shipments.
The Nez Perce say that Highway 12 is a historic route and the main thoroughfare of their community, which is one of sundry reasons why they oppose the megaload deliveries.
“They will also be traveling really close to our creation story, said McCoy Oatman, chairman of the executive committee, earlier this year. “It’s called ‘The Heart of the Monster.’ It’s essentially the birthplace of the Nez Perce people. It (the route) runs dangerously close to that site, and that’s pretty significant for us.”
All 19 arrested were later released on bail.
The megaload continued on its four-day journey following the protest.
Related Story: Nez Perce Committee Members Arrested During Protest