A burning bundle of sage and a Native-American prayer song filled the air Tuesday as dozens protested pipelines proposed in North Dakota and Florida.
At about 4 p.m., about 50 residents stood at the intersection of West University Avenue and North Main Street. Cars honked in support as the residents voiced concerns about plans to construct interstate gas pipelines through states in the Western and Southern U.S.
The 474-mile Sabal Trail pipeline is proposed to run from Alabama to Florida. It would cut through a dozen counties, including Alachua County, according to the pipeline project’s website, but many protestors argued the pipeline may contaminate Florida’s aquifer.
The pipeline would run through the western part of the county, near the cities of Newberry and Bronson, according to a map of the proposal on the Sabal Trail Transmission’s website. The project is similar to the Dakota Access Pipeline, which has recently been met with large protests because the proposed pipeline would run underneath what many believe to be sacred Native American lands.
Jenn Powell, who organized the protest as a member of local grass-roots organization Alachua County Revolution, said the plans are an example of corporations lobbying government at the expense of residents.
She said although the Environmental Protection Agency approved the pipeline’s plan despite initial concern, she believes Sabal Trail may have lobbied the agency.
“Corporations poisoning the American people for profit,” Powell added.
She said Florida’s water supply would be contaminated by the pipeline.
Thunder Skies, a member of the Apache Tribe, banged a cowhide drum in solidarity with his fellow Native Americans across the country — and with his fellow Floridians, he said.
Skies said he hoped residents of the county would educate themselves on Sabal Trail’s plans.
“I hope more people will find out about it,” the Gainesville resident said, “because it’s not in the media.”
Jane McNulty, a 58-year-old Gainesville resident, said she learned of the North Dakota pipeline plans before learning of the Sabal Trail pipeline.
“You would think we would know more about it in our area, but I think it’s been put under the radar,” she said.
McNulty said she hoped Sabal Trail — and passersby — would learn of the protest and take opposition to the pipeline seriously.
Marci Munden lit a sage bundle and spread smoke around the protestors, cleansing the area in accordance with Native American tradition.
Watching protesters in North Dakota get attacked by dogs and pepper spray motivated her to protest Tuesday, the Lake City, Florida, resident said.
If it can happen there, she said, it can happen in Alachua County, which faces the same threat of environmental hazards.
“If we don’t stand up now, it’s gonna suck for our children, our grandchildren, our great grandchildren,” Munden said.
Burning sage, which is sacred to Native Americans, on the corner of University Avenue and Main Street, Marci Munden chants for clean water for the Dakota people. "This is sacred work," Munden, 53, said of protesting the proposed oil pipeline in North Dakota.