A Sioux Falls minister joined thousands of other people from across the country who marched in Washington DC Friday to protest construction of the Dakota Access pipeline.  

Reverend Gordon Rankin has been part of the pipeline protest movement in North Dakota. Only now the effort to stop Dakota Access has shifted to the nation’s capital where Rankin and others marched from the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers office to the White House.

A wintry day in DC made Gordon Rankin feel right at home.

“The rally was cold, it was kind of like South Dakota weather, it was sleeting and snowing and raining, and maybe just reaching 40-degrees,” Rankin said.

Yet the cold didn’t put a chill on the passion of the protesters opposing the Dakota Access pipeline.

“The energy and the excitement and the commitment to what was happening was overwhelming,” Rankin said.

We spoke by phone with Rankin who was rallying outside the White House with other protesters.   He hopes the Trump Administration takes notice of the large crowd and the protesters’ message.

“Whether they listen, that’s on their side.  I’m sure they have taken notice of this because it’s very obvious that there are many, many people that are passionate about this,” Rankin said.

As a pastor with the South Dakota Conference of the United Church of Christ, Rankin says it was important that clergy show support to the tribes.

“Their land, their language, their culture, their way of being needs to be respected by the church and in a broader sense, by all Americans,” Rankin said.

Rankin says he hopes the DC rally will  become a springboard to mobilize support for other Native American causes.

“And it’s not just about pipelines, this is about tribal nations uniting and asking the government to truly honor the sovereignty  that is established in all the treaties that the United States has made with these tribal nations,” Rankin said.

A federal judge earlier this week denied a tribal request to halt construction of the final section of the Dakota Access pipeline.   The ruling could result in oil flowing through the pipeline as soon as next week.  But Rankin says he’s still hoping other legal challenges against the pipeline will go in favor of the tribe.