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Pipeline protest begins in Washington, D.C. Tell North Platte what you think
Photo by Mary Anne Andrei
Rancher Ben Gotschall

An alliance of cowboys and Indians -- ranchers, farmers and tribal leaders including nearly 100 from Nebraska — launched a five-day “Reject and Protect” encampment on National Mall Tuesday to urge the White House to oppose the Keystone XL pipeline.

Bold Nebraska, the organization that has protested the pipeline since it was announced, said the effort is aimed to protect land, water, climate and tribal rights.

Also, KVSH radio in Valentine reported April 16 that a small number of tribal members took a stand against the equipment rolling across reservation lands headed to the Keystone XL pipeline.

The Lakota Voice reported that Rosebud Sioux Tribal President Cyril Scott called the tribal police and instructed them to turn at least one semi-truck load around at the Rosebud Casino, due to a tribal resolution opposing the Keystone Pipeline.

Tribal police told the truck driver that once he had finished filling his truck with fuel, he needed to go back the way he came.

"Historically, cowboys and Indians have been at odds — but no more. The Cowboy and Indian Alliance shows our cooperation and our working together in mutual respect,” said Ben Gotschall, a fourth generation rancher who grew up in Nebraska's Sand Hills. “We pipeline fighters are not just a few angry landowners holding out or environmentalists pushing a narrow agenda. We are people from all walks of life and include the people who have been here the longest and know the land best. They, sadly, know what it's like to lose their land, to lose the ground that gives a nation its identity.”

The encampment in D.C. began Tuesday morning with a traditional tribal ceremony in front of the Capitol reflecting pool. The alliance poured a bucket of water from Nebraskans' wells along the pipeline route into the pool to highlight the need to protect this resource. Twenty tribal leaders and ranchers and farmers from Nebraska led a procession on horseback from the Capitol to a group of nine tipis on the National Mall near the Natural History Museum.

The Reject and Protect camp will be the center of five-days of activities and demonstrations to protest Keystone XL and tarsands development. On Saturday, more than 5,000 people are expected to join the Cowboy and Indian Alliance for a procession by the Capitol.

The encampment will end with an interfaith ceremony on Sunday morning, Bold Nebraska said.

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The North Platte Bulletin - Published 4/23/2014
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