HONOLULU (HawaiiNewsNow) - More than 200 people lined both sides of Ala Moana Boulevard Wednesday afternoon in a protest against a controversial oil pipeline in North Dakota.
The gathering included Native Americans, Native Hawaiians and environmental groups. Native Hawaiians in particular see parallels between what's happening in North Dakota and their protests here against projects like the Thirty Meter Telescope atop Mauna Kea.
The rally was the largest one so far in Honolulu, with participants lining both sides of Ala Moana near the Federal building.
They want President Obama to stop the $3.7 billion oil pipeline that would stretch through North Dakota, South Dakota, Iowa and Illinois.
"It started with just a few people and different groups, but now everyone's kind of coming together because we realize we're all connected," said David Mulinix of 350.org, who helped organize the event. "It's all the same issue for all of us."
A big part of that issue is water. Demonstrators contend the oil pipeline could endanger scarce water supplies in the area.
"Water's not abundant there," said Native American and Hawaii resident Valerie Benally. "It's like open land, and there's nothing. So water's very important, so what we have, we want to keep it."
Native Hawaiian draw parallels between what they say are sacred lands in Hawaii to lands that are sacred to the Sioux Indians who live where the pipeline is being built.
"As Native Hawaiians, we understand what sacred lands are, and water to us is sacred. Water is life," said Hawaiian cultural practitioner Vicky Holt Takamine. She recently returned from North Dakota after spending a few days at the protest site to show her support.
"They were banished to those lands in actuality, not knowing that there was oil and the wealth of the land," she said. "But now they want to take that away from them, and that's not right."
Demonstrators in North Dakota have staged months of protests, with dozens of arrests and angry clashes with law enforcement. Those protests are now gaining more ground, even thousands of miles away in the Pacific.