Fairhurst and Smith returned from their trip over the weekend, bringing their experiences back to their congregations during sermons Sunday morning.
Fairhurst told The Columbian on Sunday that the fight against the Bakken oil pipeline may be familiar to those in Clark County who oppose the proposed oil-transfer terminal at the Port of Vancouver.
“We know this fight here,” said Fairhurst, 50. “We know … the clout that those transporting oil from the Bakken have and how much they want to make money on the product they have. They have what they consider money in the ground.”
Burning fossil fuel is bad for the environment, and the Dakota Access pipeline is causing further damage to Native Americans, an already “traumatized community,” Fairhurst said.
Smith, 34, also has environmental concerns about the pipeline, “but the primary reason I wanted to go is because I saw the dignity of indigenous people being worn away once again.”
“They’re good men trying to do an honorable job,” Fairhurst said of the police. “It’s not really their fight. … It’s an impossible situation for them.”
It appears that the activists may be making an impact on the pipeline project. President Barack Obama said last week that the Army Corps of Engineers is considering whether to reroute the pipeline away from sacred Sioux lands.
Smith said she asked several people during her trip what they thought would happen with the pipeline. Opinions were mixed, but many agreed that even if the pipeline is built, the Standing Rock camp has succeeded in uniting tribes and other community members like never before.
“They were just going to build on the beautiful thing that has come out of the resistance,” Smith said.