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Chief John Spotted Tail, left, a traditional chief of the Rosebud Sioux Tribe, rides with actress Daryl Hannah, and rancher Eric Ringsby as Ride For Renewables' Tom Weis leads the way on Thursday, Oct. 27, 2011, in Pine Ridge. (Courtesy Photo)

Daryl Hannah, activist and actress of “Kill Bill” and “Blade Runner” fame, visited the Pine Ridge Indian Reservation Thursday to ride horses with Native Americans, local ranchers and other local activists protesting the Keystone XL Pipeline.

“It’s an incredible, incredible moment to have the so-called cowboys and Indians coming together to join forces in opposition to this proposed pipeline,” said Hannah. 

The Keystone XL Pipeline expansion is part of an oil pipeline project funded by TransCanada, a Canada-based energy supply company. The proposal connects Hardisty, Saskatchewan, with Houston, Texas, and runs across South Dakota from the northwest corner to the south central part of the state, according to maps on the TransCanada website. If the project is approved by the U.S. Department of State, construction will begin in January 2012 and finish in 2013, according to the website.

The proposed pipeline will cross the Mni Wiconi water pipeline twice. The Mni Wiconi is a major water source for Rosebud, Pine Ridge and Lower Brule reservations, and officials on those reservations have said they are concerned about the safety of the crossings.

Hannah said she met with Alex and Debra White Plume from Pine Ridge, John Spotted Tail from the Rosebud Reservation and others who have protested the pipeline locally and in Washington, D.C. 

Hannah also met up with activist Tom Weis, who is protesting the pipeline by riding a recumbent bicycle from Canada to Houston. Weis stopped in Rapid City on Tuesday. Weis and Hannah were both arrested this summer in Washington, D.C., at pipeline protests.

The pipeline project makes no sense to anyone except the corporations who profit from it, Hannah said. She said it will destroy natural resources and endanger food and water sources for many people in the U.S. She is hoping she and other protesters can convince President Barack Obama to stop the pipeline proposal. 

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“This country was supposed to be for the people and by the people,” she said. “So we need to start getting back to a place where things make sense for the species, including us, that lives here, and not for the dollar signs.”

Native Americans bring a perspective to the pipeline debate that helps Westerners make that shift from dollar signs to other measures of importance, she said, because they view different aspects of life as interconnected.

“In order to survive as a species, we have to protect and preserve things like our fresh water resources that are limited and more precious than oil,” she said. “(Native Americans) have a deep intuitive and hereditary understanding of that interdependence and they have respect and live accordingly.”

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