Seeds of resistance ceremony in Franklin County held by pipeline opponents

Published: Jun. 7, 2016 at 12:12 PM EDT
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A Franklin County landowner is hoping what she and others planted Tuesday will keep the Mountain Valley Pipeline -- the gas pipeline set to run from just north of Danville to West Virginia -- off her property.

In Franklin County hard work is a way of life, and the thought of a pipeline disrupting that way of life is more than unsettling to Steve and Anne Bernard.

"We have a lot of trouble sleeping and we think about it all the time," Anne Bernard said. "We read about things whenever we get a chance because the more you know about it the more power you have to fight it."

The Bernards fought the pipeline tooth and nail and are now doing it with an unlikely tool -- sacred blue cord seedlings from the Ponca Indian Nation that are certified by the United States Government.

"Our origin story passed through our oral history says that the creator when he created us and put us on the earth gave us the corn as a sacred gift," Ponca Nation Member Mekasi Horinek said. "Pipelines threaten our way of life, threaten everybody's way of life, the ecosystem and the water and the air and anywhere that people are standing up for the rights of nature and the rights of mother earth I try to be there to support them and help them."

Two dozen people who are no strangers to working planted seeds of resistance two inches deep into the Bernard's soil in an effort to plant corn, not pipelines.

"It's for two reasons," Bold Alliance President Jane Kleeb said. " One, that is medicine for the land to protect it and the second is for legal reasons, the corn is now certified by the USDA with the federal government so if the pipeline tries to cross this path we will put up a legal challenge to that."

The Bold Alliance defeated the Keystone XL Pipeline in the Great Plains and is in town to support and coach those going up against the Mountain Valley Pipeline.

"We think it's critical that citizens know they can stop these pipelines, one of these things when big oil or gas comes to your community they want you to feel like you're powerless, that you're up against a multi-billion dollar company so you might as well just sign the papers," Kleeb said.

With a blessing from the Ponca Nation and corn that will grow up to four feet tall, the hope is this joint effort will help keep the pipeline out.