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Those Who Stand with Standing Rock in Idaho

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- The feast and offering for demonstrators at Standing Rock is slated for Saturday, Oct. 29. -  - FACEBOOK.COM
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  • The feast and offering for demonstrators at Standing Rock is slated for Saturday, Oct. 29.
For months, thousands of members of the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe have fought against the construction of the Dakota Access oil pipeline within a mile of their reservation.

The protest to save their drinking water and preserve the environment has been met with court orders and arrests, but tribal leaders and demonstrators have said they won't back down.

With winter on the way, a group of Idahoans is collecting seasonally appropriate supplies to take to the Dakota badlands.

"These people aren't going anywhere, and we need to keep them warm through the winter," said Celia Espinoza, one of the organizers of Idaho Stands with Standing Rock.

Espinoza and her group are set to host a feast and offering event Saturday, Oct. 29, at a location to be announced. The event will include a potluck and music by singer Lisa Luna, but it doubles as a supply drive for Native Americans and protesters already at the reservation who will need provisions in the months to come. Espinoza and two fellow Idaho organizers will deliver the goods to Standing Rock during a three-day visit to the protest site there Nov. 3-7.

The supply drive aims to collect weather-appropriate items like coats, gloves, thermal wear, camping supplies like tents and sleeping bags, and firewood. 

Standing Rock is hundreds of miles and a Continental Divide away from the Gem State, but the issues facing the Sioux Tribe there, like environmentally destructive or irresponsible development, are already faced by Idahoans, Espinoza said. 

"We live in a very beautiful state," she said. "Our back yard is the mountains. I want my kids to have memories of that, as well. Standing Rock stood out to me when I realized how much of our water is being destroyed by these pipelines."

Native Americans and demonstrators at the reservation, which straddles the border between North and South Dakota, have been subject to arrests and violence. Acknowledging the risk, Espinoza said her trip to the controversial pipeline is for a cause that's beyond personal considerations.

"I think there's always that concern for safety, although when you have to stand up to do what's right, that's set aside," she said. "I think about my children and their future, and the future of many people. To me, that's first."

"This world has become very dangerous to live in, but I'm doing something I need to be doing."