On April 22nd, a group of ranchers, farmers and tribal communities from along the Keystone XL tar sands pipeline route, called the Cowboy and Indian Alliance, will ride into Washington DC and set up camp near the White House to tell President Obama to reject the pipeline.

On April 26th, thousands of people will join them to stand together for a final message that the Keystone XL pipeline and the tar sands must be rejected — to protect this, and future generations.

FOR MEDIA: An itinerary of the various Reject + Protect events planned for the week of April 22-27 is below. We will also be adding new photos and b-roll video daily during the week to this page.

FOR NEBRASKA PRESS: Phone-in interviews from D.C. with Nebraska farmers, ranchers and tribal members who traveled to Washington for the event may be arranged during the week. Please contact Mark Hefflinger (323-972-15192, or Mary Anne Andrei (402-617-0413,



For Immediate Release
April 23, 2014

Jane Kleeb,, 402-705-3622
Jamie Henn,, 415-601-9337


Cowboy and Indian Alliance Launches “Reject and Protect” Encampment on the National Mall
to Protest the Keystone XL Pipeline  

Washington, DC — The Cowboy and Indian Alliance (CIA), a group of ranchers, farmers and tribal leaders — including almost 100 from Nebraska — launched a five-day “Reject and Protect” encampment on National Mall yesterday to urge President Obama to “reject” the Keystone XL pipeline and “protect” their land, water, climate, and tribal rights.

(NOTE: Phone-in interviews from D.C. with Nebraska farmers, ranchers and tribal members who traveled to Washington for the event may be arranged during the week. Please contact Mark Hefflinger (323-972-5192, or Mary Anne Andrei (402-617-0413,

“Historically, cowboys and Indians have been at odds—but no more. The Cowboy and Indian Alliance shows our cooperation and our working together in mutual respect,” said Ben Gotschall, a fourth generation rancher who grew up in Nebraska’s Sand Hills. “That shared bond proves that we pipeline fighters are not just a few angry landowners holding out or environmentalists pushing a narrow agenda. We are people from all walks of life and include the people who have been here the longest and know the land best. They, sadly, know what it’s like to lose their land, to lose the ground that gives a nation its identity. We’re proud that they have joined us in this fight. Together this time, we cannot lose.”

The encampment began Tuesday morning with a traditional tribal ceremony in front of the Capitol reflecting pool. The alliance poured a bucket of water from Nebraskans’ family wells along the pipeline route into the pool to highlight the need to protect this sacred resource. Twenty tribal leaders and ranchers and farmers from Nebraska then led a procession on horseback from the Capitol to a group of nine tipis on the National Mall near the Natural History Museum.

The Reject and Protect camp will be the center of five-days of activities and demonstrations to protest Keystone XL and tarsands development. On Saturday, over 5,000 people are expected to join the Cowboy and Indian Alliance for a procession by the Capitol. The encampment will end with an interfaith ceremony on the morning of Sunday, April 27.

“What can come about when you bring cowboys and Indians together for a common cause is a prayer. This prayer for protection of the resources of our children’s children can come from many hearts and minds, but when we come together, we make one prayer. We make one heart. We make one mind,” said Gary Dorr, a Army veteran who now helps lead “Oyate Wahacanka Woecun,” the Rosebud Sioux Tribe’s  “Shield the People” project, an effort to defend against the Keystone XL pipeline. “We want President Obama and the rest of the world to know that we are praying with one heart and one mind for the seven generations to come behind us. We can now show that we are standing the line together in prayer and in deed against a common threat to our children’s children’s future.”

On Friday, the State Department announced that it would delay a final decision on Keystone XL because of the lack of an approved route for the pipeline through Nebraska. The Obama Administration is now unlikely to make a final decision on the pipeline until after the mid-term elections in November.

The delay was a clear victory for pipeline opponents, who have pressured the State Department to take more seriously the concerns of landowners, tribes, and scientists, who have repeatedly warned that Keystone XL is a climate disaster. With the State Department’s focus now turning back to Nebraska, Reject and Protect could not be more timely according to Cowboy and Indian Alliance representatives.

“President Obama knows his decision on the pipeline has direct impact on our land, water and property rights. The delay honors our legal victory invalidating the Nebraska route and strengthens our resolve to stop this pipeline and tarsands at the source,” said Jane Kleeb, Executive Director of Bold Nebraska.

If built, the northern leg of the Keystone XL pipeline would cross some of the most fertile farms and ranches in Nebraska and put critical freshwater sources like the Ogallala Aquifer and family wells at risk of dangerous tarsands spills. The first Keystone pipeline leaked 13 times in its first year of operation. Families in Kalamazoo, Michigan and Mayflower, Arkansas are still recovering from tarsands spills in their communities in 2010 and 2013, while First Nations in the Canadian tarsands zone are facing devastating health and environmental impacts.

“Our elders remind us that we cannot drink oil and we cannot eat money,” said Crystal Lameman, of the Beaver Lake Creek Nation, located in the tar sands region of Alberta, Canada. “We’re here in solidarity with all the First Nations in Canada — the Dene, Cree and Metis Peoples — who are directly impacted by tar sands expansion. This is about more than a single pipeline: we need to stop the destructive expansion of the tar sands at its source.”

Reject and Protect is being supported by a wide coalition of groups, including Bold Nebraska, Idle No More, Honor the Earth,, the Sierra Club, and more.

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Full Schedule of Reject and Protect Events

Tuesday, April 22: Opening Day

10:00-10:30am    Interviews at the Capitol: Interviews with R&P participants available at the Capitol, 3rd St. NW between Madison and Jefferson drives

10:30am:         Opening ceremony: tribal leaders host a traditional opening ceremony to begin the ride.

11:00am:         Horseback ride: 24 ranchers and indigenous leaders from the Cowboy and Indian Alliance ride their horses from the Capitol to the Reject and Protect encampment on the National Mall between 7th and 9th.

12:30-2:00pm:     Opening the Encampment: Cowboys and indigenous leaders will officially open the encampment, raising a final ceremonial tipi to join the 29 other tipis already assembled on the mall, the Indigo Girls will perform. Interviews will be available at the encampment.

2:00-6:00pm:         Painting Obama Tipi: The general public is invited to join the encampment, speak with participants, and add their thumbprint to a ceremonial tipi for President Obama that will be accepted on his behalf by the Museum of the American Indian at the end of the encampment.

6:00-8:00pm:        Dinner, Music: Participants will share a meal of bison raised along the pipeline route provided by one of the ranchers from Nebraska. Music performances and speeches will take place throughout the evening.

Wednesday, April 23: Day Two at the Encampment

9:00-10:00am         Traditional water ceremony: Indigenous representatives will lead the encampment in a traditional water ceremony that will highlight the threat Keystone XL poses to water sources, especially the Ogallala Aquifer, along the pipeline route.

10:00am-2:00pm    CIA meets with federal agencies: Representatives from the Cowboy and Indian Alliance will meet with federal agencies and representatives from the White House to push them to reject the Keystone XL pipeline.

4:00pm-6:00pm    Environmental and Progressive leaders visit encampment: Leaders from national environmental and progressive groups will visit the encampment.

Thursday, April 24: Day Three / Bold Action During the Day

9:00-10:00am         Traditional water ceremony

Time TBD         Bold Action in DC: CIA representatives will be taking part in a bold and creative action in DC to highlight the threat Keystone XL poses to their homes and their land, water and climate. Details will be announced immediately before the action.

8:00pm     Projection at the EPA: Activist group The Other 98%, in support of the Cowboy and Indian Alliance, will project messages rejecting the Keystone XL pipeline directly onto the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). Using a large-scale, high-intensity projector, the Other 98% will broadcast comments from ordinary Americans asking the EPA to tell the U.S. State Department to reject Keystone XL.

Friday, April 25: Day Four / Action at Sec. Kerry’s House

9:00-10:00am         Traditional water ceremony

11:00am-12:30pm:     Action at Secretary of State John Kerry’s House: The CIA will host an event outside Secretary Kerry’s house, including a traditional ceremony praying that the Secretary listen to his conscious and the science and reject Keystone XL.

6:00-8:00pm        TEDx Style Tar Sands Presentation at the Encampment: Renowned photographer Garth Lenz and indigenous activist Crystal Laneman will host a TEDx style presentation on the Canadian Tar Sands. Lenz’s “True Cost of Oil” TEDxVictoria presentation has been viewed online over 500,000 times.

Saturday, April 26: Procession Around the White House

9:00-10:00am         Traditional water ceremony

10:00-11:00am    Painting of Obama tipi: The public will add their hand and thumbprints to the traditional canvas liner of the tipi for President Obama, which will be accepted on his behalf by the Museum of the American Indian.

11:00am-2:00pm    Ceremony and Procession by the Capitol: Over 5,000 people are expected to join the Cowboy Indian Alliance in a ceremony at the encampment and then a procession by the Capitol to demonstrate opposition to the Keystone XL pipeline. At the end of the procession, tribal leaders will present a tipi to the director of the Museum of the American Indian, painted by the week’s participants to honor President Obama.

Sunday, April 27: Closing Ceremony

9:00-10:00am         Traditional water ceremony

11:00am-12:00pm    Closing Ceremony: Tribal elders will lead the Cowboy and Indian Alliance and supporters in a traditional closing ceremony to end the encampment. The ceremony will include a commitment to further opposition to Keystone XL and all tar sands pipelines.