DAPL protesters show support for Standing Rock at ‘Pray Down The Banks’

Stanison Yazzie and his daughter stand in downtown Phoenix in protest to the Dakota Access Pipeline. (Holly Bernstein/DD)

Protesters gathered to protest and pray about the Dakota Access Pipeline for Phoenix #NoDAPL Pray Down The Banks! at Wells Fargo Plaza in downtown Phoenix Saturday.

“I was pissed you know?” said protester Bri Skets in reaction to hearing about the controversial $3.8 billion pipeline that would be built on Native American land. If approved, the Dakota Access Pipeline will stretch more than 1,000 miles.

The pipeline has been the center of protest within the Native American community and a legal battle since July. The Standing Rock Sioux tribe said they did not approve the project and that it’s a threat to their water supply.

Activists in Phoenix and other major cities have protested the project. In September, over 100 people marched in downtown Phoenix in support of Standing Rock.

RELATED: Over 100 march downtown to show support for Standing Rock Tribe

“This pipeline is endangering our future and ourselves as mankind,” Skets said. “It hurts so much that I feel like I just can’t stand by and not do anything. This protest makes me feel like I’m having my voice be heard.”

Skets said he was upset DAPL is being built on Native American land.

“We were told (the land) would be ours forever,” Skets added. “It’s taking a toll on me so much that I can’t do nothing about it. I have to — I have to be here,” he said.

Those involved in the protest hoped to peacefully demand the financial industry’s complete divestment of funds from DAPL, according to the group’s Facebook page.

The protest on Saturday was not the first downtown Phoenix DAPL protest for attendee Parinita Singh, who said she also participated in a demonstration in September.

She said the protest drew interest from locals in downtown Phoenix who were curious, and the issue of DAPL was being overshadowed by recent election coverage.

“By protesting, we’re raising awareness and letting people know that this is the reality,” Singh said.

Singh said she was worried about the environmental impact the pipeline has on water, wildlife, agriculture, animals and humans.

“I can’t be (at Standing Rock) right now, but at the same time I want them to know that there are other people around the country that are trying to stand up for whatever’s going on out there, because it’s not right,” Singh said.

DAPL includes pipes that will travel underneath the Missouri River, the main source of water for the Standing Rock Sioux. For protesters, the possibility of oil spills was a big concern.

“I’m Indigenous. You know, I’m Navajo, and I have a big connection, not just the pipeline but the Mother Earth herself,” said protester Stanison Yazzie. “For someone to lay pipeline knowing the possibility, what it’ll affect in the long run … that’s my connection to it.”

Yazzie, who brought his daughter to the protest, said he wanted to secure the future for the younger generation.

“I want my daughter to feel safe. I want my daughter to know that she’s being taken care of,” he said. “I want my daughter to know her dad fought for what he believed in.”

Contact the reporter at Holly.Bernstein@asu.edu.