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Sioux protest pipeline

Standing Rock Reservation, N.D.

Chekota American Horse and his 8-month-old son traveled a few miles from their home on the nearby Sioux reservation to join the growing protest against a $3.8 billion oil pipeline that’s going into the ground fast. Mekasi Horinek, a Ponca, traveled from Oklahoma. Carlos Castaneda, who is Sioux, came from Denver.

“I came here because this is about our water and about his future,” American Horse said of his son, Caden, who on Friday gazed wide-eyed at riders on war-painted horses. Nearby, as bulldozers and backhoes rumbled, tribal members from across the nation chanted prayers, burned sacred herbs and hoisted upside-down American flags.

The months-long “spirit camp” protest by the Standing Rock Sioux against the Dakota Access pipeline — projected by the end of the year to be carrying nearly 500,000 barrels of crude daily from North Dakota’s rich Bakken oil fields more than 1,000 miles to Illinois — transformed last week from a quiet action to something more active, with about 100 who gathered Friday and with at least 18 people arrested in the construction zone Thursday and Friday, including the tribal chairman.

Tribal members and their supporters vow to continue protests and acts of civil disobedience, and the tribe, whose reservation straddles the North Dakota-South Dakota border, also is seeking a court order to block the pipeline’s construction, which it says would disturb sacred sites and hurt the environment.

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