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North Dakota Access Pipeline rally held at Oklahoma Capitol

Mark Powless, with the Onondaga Tribe, holds a Trail of Tears flag Monday during a protest against the Dakota Access Pipeline in Oklahoma City. Photo by Steve Gooch,The Oklahoman]

Mark Powless, with the Onondaga Tribe, holds a Trail of Tears flag Monday during a protest against the Dakota Access Pipeline in Oklahoma City. Photo by Steve Gooch,The Oklahoman]

A few hundred people huddled together in the wind near the front steps of the Oklahoma Capitol on Monday afternoon in a show of solidarity with North Dakota Access Pipeline protesters.

The rally began with a prayer from Steve Pratt, of Edmond, a retired professor and member of the Osage Nation, followed by speeches from several local Native American activists.

Activist and filmmaker Sterlin Harjo described the feeling of watching his friends and colleagues who are currently protesting in North Dakota being arrested as surreal and heartbreaking.

“It really shook me to my core,” Harjo told the crowd. “That's why I'm here… it angered me so much I had to be here.”

Confrontations between law enforcement and protesters in North Dakota grew tense over the weekend, as police in riot gear pressed the front lines of the protest, pushing demonstrators out of certain areas, in some cases firing beanbag rounds and using pepper spray. Several vehicles were set ablaze, and protesters held off authorities at the Blackwater Bridge for several hours. By the end of Friday evening, more than 140 people had been arrested.

Speakers at the rally touched on their anger over the use of force in North Dakota, as well as the possibility of an oil pipeline not only disturbing sacred Native lands but also contaminating nearby water sources.

Warren Queton said that during a recent visit to land near Carnegie he reflected on what the water that flowed through the land meant and how it connected him to those protesting almost one thousand miles away.

“I thought about the water and how it runs through that property like it does through our bodies,” he said. “Water is life.”

“Water is essential to live,” said Apollonia Pina, one of the rally's organizers, noting the importance of showing solidarity to those in North Dakota. “With me being Native American I am a minority of a minority. We are less than 1 percent of the population of the U.S. It's important for those up north to know that even if we can't be there we support them and their efforts or not going unnoticed.”

Related Photos
<p>Jennell Downs, with the Kickapoo Tribe of Oklahoma, puts up a flag Monday at the state Capitol in Oklahoma City during a protest against the Dakota Access Pipeline. Photo by Steve Gooch, The Oklahoman]</p>

Jennell Downs, with the Kickapoo Tribe of Oklahoma, puts up a flag Monday at the state Capitol in Oklahoma City during a protest against the Dakota Access Pipeline. Photo by Steve Gooch, The Oklahoman]

<figure><img src="//cdn2.newsok.biz/cache/r960-ba122fbd3d43ed2d0e74b285316010d1.jpg" alt="Photo - Jennell Downs, with the Kickapoo Tribe of Oklahoma, puts up a flag Monday at the state Capitol in Oklahoma City during a protest against the Dakota Access Pipeline. Photo by Steve Gooch, The Oklahoman] " title=" Jennell Downs, with the Kickapoo Tribe of Oklahoma, puts up a flag Monday at the state Capitol in Oklahoma City during a protest against the Dakota Access Pipeline. Photo by Steve Gooch, The Oklahoman] "><figcaption> Jennell Downs, with the Kickapoo Tribe of Oklahoma, puts up a flag Monday at the state Capitol in Oklahoma City during a protest against the Dakota Access Pipeline. Photo by Steve Gooch, The Oklahoman] </figcaption></figure><figure><img src="//cdn2.newsok.biz/cache/r960-6070739836cd947521bca32c67f0aaee.jpg" alt="Photo - People gather Monday in front of the state Capitol in Oklahoma City to protest the Dakota Access Pipeline. [Photo by Steve Gooch, The Oklahoman] " title=" People gather Monday in front of the state Capitol in Oklahoma City to protest the Dakota Access Pipeline. [Photo by Steve Gooch, The Oklahoman] "><figcaption> People gather Monday in front of the state Capitol in Oklahoma City to protest the Dakota Access Pipeline. [Photo by Steve Gooch, The Oklahoman] </figcaption></figure><figure><img src="//cdn2.newsok.biz/cache/r960-c_54dbf8361a6d56e3d78e0d0b98ccd50c.jpg" alt="Photo - Mark Powless, with the Onondaga Tribe, holds a Trail of Tears flag Monday during a protest against the Dakota Access Pipeline in Oklahoma City. Photo by Steve Gooch,The Oklahoman] " title=" Mark Powless, with the Onondaga Tribe, holds a Trail of Tears flag Monday during a protest against the Dakota Access Pipeline in Oklahoma City. Photo by Steve Gooch,The Oklahoman] "><figcaption> Mark Powless, with the Onondaga Tribe, holds a Trail of Tears flag Monday during a protest against the Dakota Access Pipeline in Oklahoma City. Photo by Steve Gooch,The Oklahoman] </figcaption></figure>
Graham Lee Brewer

Graham Lee Brewer has covered criminal justice, the state prison system, the death penalty, and the state legislature for The Oklahoman, since joining its staff in 2013. Brewer witnessed and investigated the botched execution of Clayton Lockett,... Read more ›

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