EUGENE — The rain that poured down didn't dampen spirits of local residents who stood with hundreds of others and marched in protest of the Dakota Access Pipeline in Eugene Tuesday.

The protest was just one of many that occurred across the country outside Army Corps of Engineer offices.

The pipeline project has received opposition from the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe, where many have joined protests in North Dakota for months.

Eugene protesters stood in solidarity with the tribe, and their resolve was actually boosted by the weather.

“It was just pouring down and nobody cared; we all just stood there,” said Sheri Meza, who is member of the Coquille Tribe.

The rain was fitting for Meza, who said it mirrored the main focus of the peaceful protest.

“Everybody agreed that water was the main thing to think about,” she said, “I think with the rain coming down like that it was most appropriate.”

She said there weren’t many people when the tribal members first showed up, but it soon grew.

“I turned around and looked and there were a lot of people,” she said. “A gentleman started singing a native song and everybody joined in.”

Laurabeth Barton was another Coquille member who attended the rally. She said she went as a personal showing of support.

“We wanted to at least show solidarity for those people and what they’ve gone through,” Barton said.

She said there was someone at the rally who had recently returned from North Dakota, filling attendants in on what’s being going on at the frontlines of the issue and telling people to keep the demonstration peaceful.

“He was very adamant about not doing anything hateful,” Barton said, “He told people if you’re here because you’re angry we don’t want you here, you’re not helping us you’re hindering us.”

Although she admits that she wouldn’t call herself complacent about the situation.

“I’m very upset that the government has once again screwed the Native Americans,” Barton said, “It’s too late to salvage the damage that’s been done at Standing Rock.”

After the protest, Meza and Barton, along with others across the nation, hope their message will be heard.

“I hope somebody listens, we need somebody to listen,” Meza said.

Reach Saphara Harrell at (541) 269-1222 ext. 239 or by email at saphara.harrell@theworldlink.com

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