More than 1,600 miles from the Dakota Access Pipeline, tall teepees now dot parts of the National Mall, in anticipation of a Friday march to the White House.
Thousands are expected to stand in solidarity with the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe, now launching an eleventh-hour legal battle to stop construction on the controversial pipeline.
Under federal law, the Army Corps of Engineers must consult with local tribes, but authorities do not need to seek tribal consent before building. Dozens of people interviewed in the teepee encampment Thursday said they simply want to have a voice when it comes to the decision process.
“We set up these teepees to remind them that we are not extinct,” said a protester who traveled to Washington from Central America. “We are still alive and thriving.”
Activists with the Native Nations Rise Movement constructed the teepees Tuesday, beginning four days of engagement with the public. The effort culminates with a march from the Army Corps of Engineers headquarters to the White House, Friday at 10 a.m.
“The low point for me, was being shot with rubber bullets,” recalled Standing Rock resident Robert Eder. “I was maced, and gassed. We’re coming here to take our fight directly to Washington.”
President Donald Trump resumed construction on the pipeline with an executive order in January. A joint lawsuit filed by the Cheyenne River Sioux and the Standing Rock Sioux tribes remains unresolved, with a ruling expected in April.