Prayer Walk Looks to Raise Concerns Surrounding KXL
September 26, 2018
“It’s a beautiful day for a walk,” shouted one of the prayer walkers at this past weekend’s prayer walk as the Courier arrived to interview event organizers and capture pictures. The event was intended to raise awareness to the group’s opposition to the Keystone XL pipeline and the human trafficking and drug concerns that surround the influx of employees that will be present during its construction.
According to organizer Angelina Cheek, over 25 different walkers, covering different stretches of the route, showed up to show support and demonstrate both in opposition to KXL and to raise awareness of human trafficking and drug-related issues surrounding “man camps.” “My biggest concern is the man camps, because of the indigenous women and men who go missing,” explained Cheek who also described instances where people had been abducted in cases related to the Baaken Oilfield in North Dakota. In particular, she cited the case of Sherry Arnold, a Sidney school teacher who was abducted and killed by two men from Colorado who had claimed to be looking for work in the oilfields.
On Sept. 20, Cheek coordinated a law enforcement presentation in Frazer with the Department of Justice, the Montana Highway Patrol and Bureau of Indian Affairs all presenting information on human trafficking and narcotics activity affiliated with the potential influx of workers to the area, according to Cheek.
One presenter at the human trafficking presentations in Frazer was a sophomore at Poplar High School who told the story of almost being abducted walking home from school. She recounted her story to the Courier saying that she was stopped on her way home from school by a car with North Dakota plates. The men kept talking to her and then tried to force her to get into their car. Finally, she said she pulled out her phone and called the police and walked as quickly as possible in the other direction before the car pulled away.
According to her account, the police never located the vehicle or made any arrests. She also claims she saw the same vehicle weeks later on her way home from school forcing her to run home in fear.
The other reason for the prayer walk was to oppose the construction of Keystone XL pipeline, because of the risk it poses to the Fort Peck Tribes and Dry Prairie Water Supply by crossing under the Milk and Missouri Rivers. As one participant, who did not want to go on the record out of fear of reprisals from the Tribes, said, “Think of water going through a copper pipe. It will eventually spring holes, because it is abrasive. Tar sands are far more corrosive; these pipes will leak.”
The walk’s organizer, Marina Starr, expressed regret that more people had not shown up to support the walk, but also showed understanding that many people expressed fear. “A lot of people have said they are afraid to show up because of what happened at DAPL (The Dakota Access Pipeline),” explained Starr, before adding, “There is a lot of fear going up against Trans-Canada, the police departments and all that. I think if it’s done in a good way, the right way, then it (the opposition to KXL) will turn out good.”