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Protesters Sing, Drum, Chant Outside Portland Army Corps Building

Several hundred supporters of the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe staged a protest at the Army Corps of Engineers building in downtown Portland.

A plan to build an oil pipeline across land and rivers important to the Standing Rock Sioux has sparked one of the largest, most diverse tribal protest movements in decades. Last week, more than 100 protesters were arrested at their encampment in North Dakota.

In Portland on Monday, hundreds of protesters gathered in solidarity, carrying signs that declared "Water is Life" and "No Dakota Access Pipeline."

"Fight for us. Write to everybody you can, tell everybody you can," 82-year-old John Nelson told the crowd. Nelson, who lives in Portland, is the grandfather of the chairman of the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe.

But the protesters also wanted to talk about what they see as violations of tribal water rights in the Northwest.

"The battle with the Army Corps of Engineers is big," said Delia Sanchez, a Grand Ronde tribal member. "They manipulate every single river in the United States. They're messing with our salmon runs. We're not going to stand for it anymore."

Many who came to the Portland protest had also participated in the protests at Standing Rock. Tiwani Sahme was among about 50 members of the Warm Springs Tribe who made the trip to North Dakota in September.

"I went to Standing Rock to sing and pray with my relatives." Sahme said. "We brought our canoe, we paddled on the water."

Sahme said he plans to use the skills he learned as a protester at Standing Rock to oppose Nestle's plan to build a plant in the Columbia Gorge to bottle water from Oxbow Springs.

“We’ve been fighting them for years on this. Part of the reason that I went to Standing Rock was to game myself up, to gain knowledge so we can come back and fight this beast," he said.

"Our people used to drink out of that spring, for a long time."

As the protest was dispersing, a small group pushed their way inside the federal building at 1201 NE Lloyd. Portland Police Spokesman Pete Simpson said an officer took a report about the incident, but didn't make any arrests.

"They went into the lobby, were there for a few minutes and then left," he said.

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<p>"I don't like what they're doing at Standing Rock," says Bea Collins. "Water is life." Collins is Laguna Pueblo from New Mexico.&nbsp;</p>

Amelia Templeton

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"I don't like what they're doing at Standing Rock," says Bea Collins. "Water is life." Collins is Laguna Pueblo from New Mexico. 

<p>Several hundred people joined the protest Monday outside an Army Corps of Engineers building in downtown Portland</p>

Amelia Templeton

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Several hundred people joined the protest Monday outside an Army Corps of Engineers building in downtown Portland

<p>The protesters drew connections between the Standing Rock Sioux's struggle with the Army Corps of Engineers over the Dakota Access Pipeline and local conflict over the management of the Columbia River hydro power dams.</p>

Amelia Templeton

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The protesters drew connections between the Standing Rock Sioux's struggle with the Army Corps of Engineers over the Dakota Access Pipeline and local conflict over the management of the Columbia River hydro power dams.

<p>Tiwani Sahme wears a Columbia river cedar hat. Sahme participated in the protests at Standing Rock along with other members of the Warm Springs canoe family. Sahme says he will use the lessons he learned there to fight plans for a Nestle bottled water facility in the Columbia Gorge.</p>

Amelia Templeton

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Tiwani Sahme wears a Columbia river cedar hat. Sahme participated in the protests at Standing Rock along with other members of the Warm Springs canoe family. Sahme says he will use the lessons he learned there to fight plans for a Nestle bottled water facility in the Columbia Gorge.

<p>Portland resident John Nelson is Oglala Sioux from Pine Ridge South Dakota.The chair of the Standing Rock tribal council, Dave Archambault II, is Nelson's grandson. </p><p>&nbsp;</p>

Amelia Templeton

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Portland resident John Nelson is Oglala Sioux from Pine Ridge South Dakota.The chair of the Standing Rock tribal council, Dave Archambault II, is Nelson's grandson.

 

<p>Nelson, who is 82, has traveled to Standing Rock to support his grandson and the protesters.</p>

Amelia Templeton

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Nelson, who is 82, has traveled to Standing Rock to support his grandson and the protesters.

<p>"I am here to stand in solidarity" said Allison Corey. "Water shouldn't be something we have to fight for."</p>

Amelia Templeton

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"I am here to stand in solidarity" said Allison Corey. "Water shouldn't be something we have to fight for."

Amelia Templeton is a multimedia reporter and producer for Oregon Public Broadcasting, covering Portland city hall, justice and local news. She was previously a reporter for EarthFix, an award-winning public media project covering the environment in the Northwest.