The Progressive


A project of Common Dreams

For Immediate Release

Jamie Henn,, 415-601-9337
Jane Kleeb,, 402-705-3622

Reject & Protect: Farmers, Ranchers, and Tribes Protest Keystone XL with Week-Long DC Encampment

This April 22-27, the Cowboy and Indian Alliance (CIA), a group of ranchers, farmers and indigenous leaders, will host an encampment on the National Mall for a week's worth of "Reject and Protect" actions against the Keystone XL tar sands pipeline.


This April 22-27, the Cowboy and Indian Alliance (CIA), a group of ranchers, farmers and indigenous leaders, will host an encampment on the National Mall for a week's worth of "Reject and Protect" actions against the Keystone XL tar sands pipeline.

The encampment will feature 15 tipis and a covered wagon, and begins on Tuesday with a 40-person ceremonial horseback ride from the Capitol down the National Mall. Ranchers from Nebraska, tribal leaders from Nebraska, Minnesota and the Dakotas, actor Daryl Hannah, the Indigo Girls, environmental and social justice leaders, and others will take part at the encampment over the week.

Over 5,000 people are expected to join the Cowboy Indian Alliance for a ceremonial walk by the Capitol on Saturday, April 26. The CIA will finish the procession by delivering a tipi, painted by the week's participants, to the Museum of the American Indian in honor of President Obama. The tipi is a symbol of respect, as well as a symbol of the tipis and other encampments they will erect along the pipeline route if the Keystone XL is approved.

As the National Interest Determination process comes to a close and pipeline opponents look to the president to reject the tar sands pipeline, the "Reject and Protect" events serve to remind President Obama that his decision will have real consequences for those families in the tar sands region of Canada, along the pipeline route and in refinery communities--in addition to long-lasting climate impacts for generations to come.

Reject and Protect is led by the "Cowboy Indian Alliance," a group of ranchers, farmers, and tribal communities from along the Keystone XL pipeline route to urge President Obama to reject Keystone XL and protect land, water, climate and tribal rights.
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Full Schedule of Reject and Protect Events

Tuesday, April 22: Opening Day

10:00-10:30am: Interviews at the Capitol: Interviews with R&P participants available at the Capitol, 3rd St. NW between Madison and Jefferson drives.

10:30am: Opening ceremony: Tribal leaders host a traditional opening ceremony to begin the ride.

11:00am: Horseback ride: 24 ranchers and indigenous leaders from the Cowboy and Indian Alliance ride their horses from the Capitol to the Reject and Protect encampment on the National Mall between 7th and 9th.

12:30-2:00pm: Opening the Encampment: Cowboys and indigenous leaders will officially open the encampment, raising a final ceremonial tipi to join the 29 other tipis already assembled on the mall, the Indigo Girls will perform. Interviews will be available at the encampment.

2:00-6:00pm: Painting Obama Tipi: The general public is invited to join the encampment, speak with participants, and add their thumbprint to a ceremonial tipi for President Obama that will be accepted on his behalf by the Museum of the American Indian at the end of the encampment.

6:00-8:00pm: Dinner, Music: Participants will share a meal of bison raised along the pipeline route provided by one of the ranchers from Nebraska. Music performances and speeches will take place throughout the evening.

Wednesday, April 23: Day Two at the Encampment

9:00-10:00am: Traditional water ceremony: Indigenous representatives will lead the encampment in a traditional water ceremony that will highlight the threat Keystone XL poses to water sources, especially the Ogallala Aquifer, along the pipeline route.

4:00pm-6:00pm: Environmental and Progressive leaders visit encampment: Leaders from national environmental and progressive groups will visit the encampment.

Thursday, April 24: Day Three / Bold Action During the Day

9:00-10:00am: Traditional water ceremony

Time TBD: Bold Action in DC: CIA representatives will be taking part in a bold and creative action in DC to highlight the threat Keystone XL poses to their homes and their land, water and climate. Details will be announced immediately before the action.

8:00pm Projection at the EPA: Activist group The Other 98%, in support of the Cowboy and Indian Alliance, will project messages rejecting the Keystone XL pipeline directly onto the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). Using a large-scale, high-intensity projector, the Other 98% will broadcast comments from ordinary Americans asking the EPA to tell the U.S. State Department to reject Keystone XL.

Friday, April 25: Day Four / Action at Sec. Kerry's House

9:00-10:00am: Traditional water ceremony

11:00am-12:30pm: Action at Secretary of State John Kerry's House: The CIA will host an event outside Secretary Kerry's house, including a traditional ceremony praying that the Secretary listen to his conscience and the science and reject Keystone XL.

6:00-8:00pm: TEDx Style Tar Sands Presentation at the Encampment: Renowned photographer Garth Lenz and indigenous activist Crystal Laneman will host a TEDx style presentation on the Canadian Tar Sands. Lenz's "True Cost of Oil" TEDxVictoria presentation has been viewed online over 500,000 times.

Saturday, April 26: Procession on the Mall & Tipi Delivery

9:00-10:00am: Traditional water ceremony

10:00-11:00am: Painting of Obama tipi: The public will add their hand and thumbprints to the traditional canvas liner of the tipi for President Obama, which will be accepted on his behalf by the Museum of the American Indian.

11:00am-2:00pm: Ceremony and Procession by the Capitol: More than 5,000 people are expected to join the Cowboy Indian Alliance in a ceremony at the encampment and then a procession by the Capitol to demonstrate opposition to the Keystone XL pipeline. At the end of the procession, tribal leaders will present a tipi to the director of the Museum of the American Indian, painted by the week's participants to honor President Obama.

Sunday, April 27: Closing Ceremony

9:00-10:00am: Traditional water ceremony

11:00am-12:00pm: Closing Ceremony: Tribal elders will lead the Cowboy and Indian Alliance and supporters in a traditional closing ceremony to end the encampment. The ceremony will include a commitment to further opposition to Keystone XL and all tar sands pipelines.


Statements in support of Reject and Protect:

Chief Arvol Looking Horse, spiritual leader among the Dakota, Lakota, Nakota people:

"Each of us is put here in this time and this place to personally decide the future of mankind. Do you think that the creator would create unnecessary people in a time of danger? Know that you are essential to this world. The biggest cancer spreading upon Mother Earth is the tar sands."

Tom Genung, Nebraska Landowner:

"As a land owner and a pipeline fighter, it is an honor and privilege to stand together with tribal brothers and sisters. It is our duty to protect the sacred for the seven generations to come. We stand together as one people working together to help President Obama take measures for clean environmental decisions which includes denial of TransCanada's permit which has no legal route in our great state of Nebraska."

Chief Reuben George, Tsleil-Waututh:

"One thing I can say right off the bat is that we are winning. When we come together like this, we become stronger. There is no price for our water and lands. The lessons we receive from Mother Earth is to become better human beings. We give back to the earth and the land. The pipelines do not do that. We are going to win!"

Hilton Kelley, Founder and Director of Community In-Power and Development Association:

"The people living on the Gulf of Mexico in the City of Port Arthur, TX and Houston, TX are disproportionately impacted by refinery and chemical plant emissions. A large number of our residents at this present time are suffering from respiratory issues, cancer and liver and kidney disease, If the tarsands material is piped into our community for refining at the neighboring plants, there will be a serious increase in the emission levels into the very air we breathe. Our state government has not been much help in supporting our efforts to reduce the toxins in our air; we most certainly hope that we can depend on our federal Government to protect those in the low income and people of color communities as well as all others."

Bill McKibben, Founder:

"It was native people and Nebraska ranchers that really started this battle, and so it's so fitting that they're the ones leading this last appeal to the president to do the right thing. We've gone wrong in this country before when we didn't listen to its original inhabitants; let's hope Keystone becomes the opportunity to show we're wising up."

Faith Spotted Eagle, Yankton Sioux:

"We are writing a new history by standing on common ground by preventing the black snake of Keystone XL from risking our land and water. We have thousands of Native sacred sites that will be affected adversely. The Americans facing eminent domain now know what it felt like for us to lose land to a foreign country. There is no fairness or rationale to justify the risk of polluting our waterways with benzene and other carcinogens. Native people are ready to speak for the four-leggeds and the grandchildren who cannot speak for themselves. The answer is no pipeline."

Michael Brune, Sierra Club Executive Director:

"The April 26 'Reject and Protect' march will focus on the communities on the front line of the Keystone XL tar sands fight. Dirty tar sands threaten our climate, and they threaten the health and well-being of the people who live along the proposed Keystone XL tar sands pipeline route. For these families, nothing short of their water, land, and their children's safety is at stake. The Sierra Club is proud to stand with these communities and call on President Obama to reject dirty and dangerous tar sands once and for all."

Roger Milk, Rosebud Sioux:

"This just isn't an Indian thing. We all drink the same water."

Jane Kleeb, Bold Nebraska Executive Director:

"Tribal and ranching communities protect our neighbors first and foremost. That is at our core. We will bring our pipeline fighting spirit to Washington, DC in order for President Obama to see our faces so he knows he is not making a decision about a line on a map, he is making a decision about our families and our neighbors. The President said he wants to be able to look at his daughters and say 'yes he did' do everything he could to combat climate change. We intend to ensure he honors his word."

Gary Dorr, Nez Perce, Shielding the People Media Coordinator:

"We will Stand the Line."

Maura Cowley, Energy Action Coalition Executive Director:

"Indigenous communities and ranchers are fighting to stop Keystone XL as a matter of survival, and it's time that we and President Obama stand with them to stop this dirty and destructive project from ruining their land and water. For too long indigenous communities have encouraged us to look out for future generations and our country has ignored them. This must end with the Keystone decision, nothing short of our future is at stake."

Becky Bond, CREDO Political Director:

"People literally living on the frontlines of our fight against Keystone XL will be taking their case directly to the president in April. We stand in solidarity with the ranchers and tribes whose lands and waters face imminent danger from the imposition of a dirty pipeline by a foreign oil company. And CREDO joins over 86,000 people who are willing to risk arrest if necessary to back up that solidarity with action."


List of endorsing organizations and tribes (which is being added to every day):

Pictures open for press to use:

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