Locals travel to North Dakota to support oil pipeline protest

More than a dozen members of the Coeur d’Alene Tribe traveled to North Dakota to join in a protest against an oil pipeline they say would threaten the water supply and desecrate sacred lands.

"Oh my God, it's overwhelming,” said Cindy Williams, a Coeur d’Alene tribal councilwoman. “I don't know if you've been to a pow wow, but it's kind of like that. Everyone is helping each other."

The Standing Rock Sioux Tribe has been trying to stop construction of the four-state Dakota Access oil pipeline near their reservation since this spring.

Friday, a federal judge denied their request to stop work on the 1,100-mile project. The pipeline will carry nearly a 500,000 barrels of crude oil each day from North Dakota’s oil fields to an existing pipeline in Illinois.

Over the last week, Williams said around a dozen tribal members made the trip to North Dakota from the Coeur d’Alene reservation in North Idaho.

“I think it’s mostly because we wanted to stand with our brothers and sisters,” she said. “Because we’re stewards of the land. We wanted to come support them for their fight for clean water.”

The tribal members brought a traditional, handmade canoe. Williams said they put the boat in at Bismarck, North Dakota and floated roughly 30 miles down the Missouri River to the protest site.

“It’s a beautiful feeling for all of our brothers and sisters to stand together,” Williams said. “It’s the best feeling in the world to know that you got to be there to stand by your brothers and sisters and help them in their time of need."

Three federal agencies asked the pipeline company to voluntarily halt operations for the time being, reported CBS News. In a joint statement, the Departments of Justice, Army and Interior asked Energy Transfer Partners to “voluntarily pause” work within 20 miles east or west of the lake where protesters are located. The departments said they are reconsidering “any of its previous decisions” on land in that area.

Some members of the Coeur d'Alene Tribe said they planned to return to the protest this weekend.

The Associated Press and CBS News contributed to this report.

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