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Native Youths Run to Protest Dakota Access Pipeline

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A group of Native American youth are running 2,000 miles to protest construction of the Dakota Access Pipeline. (iStockphoto)
A group of Native American youth are running 2,000 miles to protest construction of the Dakota Access Pipeline. (iStockphoto)
 By Brandon CampbellContact
August 2, 2016

BISMARCK, N.D. - A 2,000-mile journey to fight for clean water and land is making its way through Maryland. Native American youths are running from North Dakota to Washington, D.C., to protest a pipeline that would cross several states and could threaten tribal lands. The Dakota Access Pipeline would stretch from North Dakota to Illinois, transporting 570,000 barrels of crude oil per day.

Jasilyn Charger with the Oceti Sakowin Youth contends the pipeline threatens the health and safety of sacred tribal lands, water resources, farm land, ecosystems and wildlife. She's among the 39 kids who are making the journey to Washington DC.

"It's really about self-sacrifice, of giving our bodies and our legs and everything we have for our water, for our earth, our culture and our identity," she said. "Water is not a trademark, it's not an accessory, it is a necessity of life, it is the giver of life and we need to respect it as such."

The group is collecting signatures that will be delivered Saturday to the Army Corps of Engineers demanding the pipeline be stopped. Last week, a lawsuit was filed against the Corps by the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe of North and South Dakota, claiming the agency violated the National Historic Preservation Act by issuing permits for the pipeline.

The run is getting some star power, as actress Shailene Woodley, known for the "Divergent" series, is joining the fight. She says too few people understand the oppression faced by Native Americans.

"It is our responsibility to learn the narrative in which Native Americans recall their own history and are walking their own history, and this is a beautiful opportunity for that," she said. "Because not only are we saying enough is enough to the fossil-fuel industry but we're saying enough is enough to silence. That's why this fight is so profound to me."

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