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On National Mall, Native Americans Protest Keystone XL Pipeline

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Some Native American groups say sacred lands would be scarred by a proposed pipeline.
Manuel Balce Ceneta/AP
Some Native American groups say sacred lands would be scarred by a proposed pipeline.

Native Americans from across the United States are holding a peaceful protest on the National Mall this week, brought here by a pipeline debate in the Midwest.

Here in Washington the debate over the Keystone XL pipeline--which would deliver tar sand oil from Canada to the Gulf coast--has centered on whether it will create jobs or increase global warming. But the tribes that would be impacted say the debate should be about what it would mean for their sacred lands. That's why Cyril Scott, president of Rosebud Sioux Tribe of South Dakota, is joining dozens of other native leaders on the mall this week.

"We're trying to save our grandchildren, their grandchildren. This land is not ours. We have borrowed it from future generations," Scott said. "So we need to leave it just as we found it, or as close as we could."

And the tribal leaders say it's working. Dallas Goldtooth of the Lower Sioux Indian Community of Minnesota says the Obama administration's choice to delay its decision on the pipeline is due to pressure from outside groups.

"Which is a positive for us meaning that we're actually, you know, we're making a difference here," Goldtooth said. "The fact that the Keystone XL Pipeline decision has delayed to November is another reaction to our efforts, to a lot of people's efforts, you know--the grassroots organizing to stop this beast coming through our land."

Tribal leaders also fear bringing in hundreds of non-native contractors to build the pipeline will lead to more sexual assaults in their communities.

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