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Las Vegas Paiutes Protest Dakota Access Oil Pipeline

Brent Holmes

Members of the Las Vegas Paiute Tribe protest along the Las Vegas Strip Friday.

The Las Vegas Paiutes are joining the Standing Rock Sioux tribe in protesting the Dakota Access pipeline.  


The pipeline is being built to transport oil from North Dakota to central Illinois. It spans 1,100 miles at a cost of $3.8 billion dollars. 


The pipeline company, Energy Transfer Partners, says the project will boost the economy and create jobs. But protestors say it desecrates ancestral land and poses a major environmental threat because it is supposed to run beneath the Missouri River, which is the tribe’s main source of drinking water. 

Fawn Douglas is a member of the Las Vegas Paiute Tribe. She told KNPR's State of Nevada there are so many things wrong with the project.

 “It angers me,” she said, “It angers a lot of people.” 

Douglas asked her tribal council to formally support the Standing Rock Sioux, which they did. Representatives of the tribe will go to North Dakota to present their flag to the Sioux leaders there. They are one of 280 other tribes that are formally supporting the Sioux.

“I’m really proud to be from this tribe where it supports these issues and stands up for what’s right,” she said.

This is not the first protection effort The Paiutes have been involved with. Douglas said they have worked to protect the Gold Butte area near their tribal lands, which has seen vandalism since the BLM pulled back some of its rangers following the standoff with rancher Cliven Bundy two years ago.

Lamont Compton is part of the Standing Rock Sioux tribe and he said protection is really what they're doing, not protesting.

“We’re protecting the earth. We’re the water. We’re protecting the rights of the land and people,” he said.

He said the issue isn't just about the Sioux but about water for thousands of people.

“They’ve already shown a neglect for nature, for the environment and that’s going to affect everybody not just our tribe,” he said. 

The U.S. Department of Justice halted construction on federal land on Friday, but the fight isn’t over.  

The Las Vegas Paiutes rallied on the Las Vegas Strip Friday, and will deliver supplies to those camping in  North Dakota early next month. 

Drummers in front of the Bellagio hotel-casino Friday/Photo courtesy: Brent Holmes

Fawn Douglas, member, Las Vegas Paiute tribe; Lamont Compton, member, Standing Rock Sioux

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Kristy Totten is a producer at KNPR's State of Nevada. Previously she was a staff writer at Las Vegas Weekly, and has covered technology, education and economic development for the Las Vegas Review-Journal. She's a graduate of the Missouri School of Journalism.