A member of the Penobscot Indian Nation was among 141 protesters arrested Thursday in North Dakota during a tense standoff with police over construction of the Dakota Access oil pipeline that reverberates in tribal communities across North America.

David Demo, 25, of Deering, New Hampshire, was released from the Mercer County Jail, his mother said in a Facebook post Saturday morning. June Sapiel of Old Town said her son was not harmed and asked for prayers. According to WMTW, Demo is out on $1,500 bond and a court date has been set for Dec. 5.

A sheriff’s office spokesman would not confirm the arrest or charges.

The Dakota Access pipeline, designed to move crude oil from North Dakota to Illinois, has ignited outrage among environmentalists and Native Americans who say the project could adversely impact drinking water and would disturb sacred burial sites. The pipeline would run within a half-mile of the Standing Rock Sioux Reservation.

The protest has drawn national attention, and on Friday Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders formally asked President Obama to intervene.

Demo drove to North Dakota in September with his mother and older brother, Bradley Demo. They wanted to learn more about the pipeline and the protest, which began in April. Demo stayed in North Dakota to join Lakota Sioux protesters from the Standing Rock Sioux Reservation and a growing community of Native Americans from across the country, his mother said.


“He saw that the pipeline was going through sacred sites and into the Missouri River, and that was going to affect drinking water for people in four states,” Sapiel said. “He wanted to stand up for his people.”

Hundreds of Native Americans and environmental activists have set up camp for months a few miles from where Thursday’s confrontation occurred. The protesters had been camped on private property near the $3.8 billion, 1,172-mile pipeline since Sunday.

The Standing Rock reservation is more than 2,000 miles from tribal lands in Maine, but they are linked by common concerns over sovereignty, and water and land rights. The fight over tribal waters remains contentious in Maine, with the Penobscots embroiled in a long-simmering lawsuit against the state over fishing rights.

Sapiel said friends in Maine raised $1,000 on Friday for her son’s bail. She plans to return to North Dakota next week.

“I have a boy out there. I have friends out there, and I have family I know out there,” she said.

The Bangor Racial and Economic Justice Coalition is organizing a prayer vigil for 7 p.m. Saturday near Railroad Street, along Bangor’s waterfront, to express solidarity with the Standing Rock protesters.

“This event is for people in our community who want to show their support for all those who are taking this vital stand for life,” a Facebook post said.

Sapiel will speak at the vigil, which will include a candlelight walk along the river. Participants are asked to bring candles and drums.

Another rally is planned for Portland on Nov. 17, Sapiel said, to highlight water rights issues to emphasize solidarity between Native people in Maine and those protesting in North Dakota.

Only subscribers are eligible to post comments. Please subscribe or login first for digital access. Here’s why.

Use the form below to reset your password. When you've submitted your account email, we will send an email with a reset code.

filed under: