Members of the One People Canoe Society will travel this week from Alaska to North Dakota to paddle in protest over a controversial pipeline.
The Standing Rock Sioux Tribe has asked paddlers from around the country to show support with a float down the Missouri River.
Doug Chilton and DeAndre King left Wednesday night on the ferry from Juneau, said Richard Peterson, president of Central Council of Tlingit and Haida Indian Tribes of Alaska.
“It was kind of a last minute deal because a lot of folks with the One People Canoe Society are actually canoeing here to Kasaan tomorrow,” Peterson said. “So they got together what they could. They got their raven canoe together and they just needed some financial support.”
There’s a ceremony in the village of Kasaan for the restoration of the Chief Son-I-Hat Whale House Naay I’waans on Saturday, but Chilton and King decided to go to North Dakota after the chairman of the Standing Rock Tribe put out a call asking for help, Peterson said.
They’ll be displaying a Central Council flag, and he thinks it’s an important time to show support, Peterson said.
He sees similarities with British Columbia mining and Southeast waterways.
“You know, we’re fighting here on transboundary issues, and we don’t know what turn that’s going to take and we may need people to stand with us as well,” Peterson said.
If the pipeline is built, then a half-million barrels of crude could flow daily from North Dakota to Illinois.
For it to get there, it would have to cross under the Missouri River — Standing Rock Reservation’s water source.
Peterson thinks it could take two days for Chilton and King to reach North Dakota.