Thousands rally against Dakota pipeline in Washington
Thousands of Native Americans and their supporters marched throughout the heart of the nation's capital on Friday seeking to derail the construction of a controversial oil pipeline.
Activists say the Dakota Access Pipeline threatens the water supply for the Standing Rock Sioux tribe. The $3.7 billion project, which runs for 1,400 miles (1,900 kilometers) through four U.S. states, is almost complete.
A federal judge declined earlier this week to temporarily halt the construction.
Blue Eagle Vigil, a Kumeyaay Native American from San Diego said he traveled to Washington to uphold "native rights".
I'm here "to resist, and to bring awareness to what's going at Standing Rock and the water situation", he said. "We've been out to Standing Rock many times to help support the battle that's going on out there, and this is just another fight in the battle to bring awareness."
Earlier this week, demonstrators erected Native American dwellings, known as tipis, on the National Mall, urging the government to change course on the oil project.
Friday's marches are part of days of demonstrations that organizers planned to draw attention to the potential ecological harms the tribe may face. President Donald Trump has maintained that the project will create jobs for Americans, and has largely brushed aside any potential dangers to the tribe.
With the lower half of her face covered by a bright red handprint, Anna-Marie Christine Johnson -- an 18-year-old Tohono Than Native American -- said the marking symbolized her commitment to protecting life.
"Incorporating those two together, I wanted to represent the protection of life," said Johnson, who hails from the Sacaton Gila River Reservation.
Trump signed an executive order in late January for construction to resume on the Dakota and Keystone XL pipelines after former President Barack Obama placed a halt on them. The Army Corps of Engineers agreed Feb. 8 to grant the final easement for the Dakota pipeline to pass under Lake Oahe.
Amid chants of "Water is life!" Claudia Williams, who is from the central Washington state Yakama tribe, said she came to the demonstrations to do her part to protect future generations.
"We believe in the same thing," she said. "We don't want what they call the 'black snake' coming through our lands. Our water is our life, and we need this not just for ourselves, but for our children that will be coming behind us -- the future of our kids."