Arizona Tribes Stand In Solidarity With Standing Rock Sioux

By Laurel Morales
September 15, 2016
James MacPherson/AP via NPR
Native Americans protest the Dakota Access oil pipeline near the Standing Rock Sioux reservation in southern North Dakota.

Tribal members across the country are rallying in solidarity with the Standing Rock Sioux in their fight against the Dakota Access Pipeline. For many in Arizona the conflict hits home.

Several tribes in Arizona have stood up to industry to protect the lands they consider sacred — places like the San Francisco Peaks in Flagstaff, the confluence of the Colorado and Little Colorado Rivers near Grand Canyon and Oak Flat east of Phoenix.

Hopi artist Ronald Lewis Laban said he sees it as his duty to protect the earth and what’s sacred.

“I know a lot of native places have already been messed up,” Laban said. “You can’t get it back. I just wonder when it’s going to stop. It takes the whole world to talk about it.”

Many tribal members have driven across the country to join the thousands in North Dakota. Protests have also been held in Flagstaff, Phoenix and Tucson.

The federal government OK’d the $3.8 billion pipeline in July. The project would carry a half-million barrels of crude oil daily from North Dakota to Illinois. Supporters say the pipeline would reduce truck and oil train traffic. Opponents say the pipeline threatens water supplies and sacred sites.