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Hundreds walk in Fargo to show solidarity with Standing Rock pipeline protesters

FARGO--Karl Jensen said it's about protecting the Missouri River. Lois Leben wanted to show her three young granddaughters the importance of standing up for the environment, while Birgit Pruess hoped to make a point about the need for alternative...

Christy Goulet administers traditional smudging ceremonies before the Dakota Access pipeline protest march at Fargo Oak Grove Park on Saturday, August 27, 2016.David Samson / The Forum
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FARGO-Karl Jensen said it's about protecting the Missouri River. Lois Leben wanted to show her three young granddaughters the importance of standing up for the environment, while Birgit Pruess hoped to make a point about the need for alternatives to oil. They didn't all share the same motivations, but hundreds of people turned out Saturday, Aug. 27, for a walk along the Red River that started in Fargo's Oak Grove Park and ended on the Veterans Memorial Bridge to show their solidarity with Dakota Access Pipeline protesters near Standing Rock Sioux Reservation. Leben came with her family from Spirit Lake Reservation near Devils Lake, N.D., to support the protestors working to stop the pipeline, which would transport crude oil from North Dakota's Bakken Formation to Patoka, Ill., and cross the Missouri River less than a mile from Standing Rock. For Leben, it's important that federal officials and pipeline builders honor treaties between the U.S. government and tribes, and she said the wishes of the tribe must be respected. She also wanted her three granddaughters, ages 3 to 8, to be at the walk along the river in Fargo and Moorhead. "They need to know that they should protect Mother Earth," she said. 'Water really is life' Fargo resident Theresa Ellis, 28, said she supports Standing Rock protestors because of the risk of the pipeline leaking and contaminating the Missouri River. "Water really is life," she said. Like many of the people who gathered in Oak Grove before the walk started, Ellis made a sign to display her message. In a combination of English and Ojibwe, her sign read, "Pray for our water and the Grandmother Earth."

Christy Goulet administers traditional smudging ceremonies before the Dakota Access pipeline protest march at Fargo Oak Grove Park on Saturday, August 27, 2016.David Samson / The Forum
Christy Goulet administers traditional smudging ceremonies before the Dakota Access pipeline protest march at Fargo Oak Grove Park on Saturday, August 27, 2016.David Samson / The Forum

Pruess said she's read about what's happening at Standing Rock and wanted to get involved as a way to raise awareness about the environmental risks. There are alternative or renewable energy sources other than oil, she said, and she hoped the event in Fargo could help others realize the issues affect more than the residents of that one reservation. "They should, in theory, have support," she said. "They shouldn't have to be the only ones." Fargo resident MaryJo Cayley also worried about the environmental damage that could happen if the pipeline is built as currently planned. "Water itself is a finite resource, and if we keep polluting it, where will we all be?" she said. "The plants need water to live; we need water to live, and we just don't want it polluted. Why take a chance?" She said she keeps thinking about a quote she recently heard on National Public Radio-"The era of consumption without consequence is over"-and she believes Americans need to figure out how to be wiser consumers who waste less and use less. Jensen, a 40-year-old Fargo resident, came to the park and walk with his fiancee to support Standing Rock. He considers himself to be an environmentalist, and said even though he doesn't have a personal connection to the reservation that's hundreds of miles from Fargo, he has enjoyed the Missouri River for its fishing in the past. He said he doesn't want to see it "destroyed" by oil-and said he'd have the same concerns if the pipeline was slated to run underneath the Red River near Fargo. "I just think about what happens if it was going through the Red River and broke and contaminated our water," he said. "How would we feel?"

Related Topics: DAKOTA ACCESS PIPELINE
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