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2,000-Mile Run to Washington Protests Bakken Pipeline

39 Native American youths are running a long relay to protest the Bakken Pipeline. (Oceti Sakowin Youth)
39 Native American youths are running a long relay to protest the Bakken Pipeline. (Oceti Sakowin Youth)
August 3, 2016

DES MOINES, Iowa — A 2,000 mile relay run has made its way through Iowa as dozens of Native American youth protest the Bakken Pipeline. Like the pipeline, the journey started in North Dakota. But instead of stopping where the pipeline will in Illinois, they're heading all the way to the nation's capital.

Jasilyn Charger with the Oceti Sakowin Youth is one of the runners calling attention to the potential harm the pipeline would cause.

"I really want to stress how damaging this pipeline is going to be to the earth, and to the water,” Charger said. "It is gonna affect lives, it's gonna affect trees, wildlife, medicine, and food resources for a lot of people."

The group is collecting signatures that will be delivered Saturday to the Army Corps of Engineers demanding the pipeline be stopped.

The run gained some star power when actress Shailene Woodley, known for her role in the "Divergent" series, joined the fight.

"When we win - because we're going to win - this pipeline will not be built,” Woodley said. “When we win, most of America will have a different perspective, will have a different awakening to realize that we have a lot to learn and the only way we're going to learn is if we start asking questions. "

Woodley said she was inspired after seeing the young people making their cross-country journey as she headed home from the Democratic National Convention in Philadelphia.

As one of 39 runners, Charger said it's been a meaningful experience.

"This journey is a spiritual one as well as a powerful one,” Charger said. "It's been hard, long, stressful but also it's powerful."

The Army Corps of Engineers has received final approval to begin pipeline construction and equipment is already in place at locations across Iowa, but several lawsuits challenging the pipeline are still pending.

More information is available here.

Bob Kessler, Public News Service - IA