Members of Wisconsin's Ho-Chunk Nation as well as Dane County Sheriff Dave Mahoney have been playing roles in protests over the construction of a controversial pipeline in North Dakota.
The protests, which have pitted Native Americans and environmentalists against an oil company, continued Friday afternoon after a federal judge ordered that construction of the $3.7 billion pipeline can continue.
According to the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe, thousands of people from more than 200 Native American tribes have come to support its efforts to protect its lands, waters and sacred sites during the construction of the Dakota Access Pipeline.
One of those tribes is Wisconsin's Ho-Chunk Nation.
Wilfrid Cleveland, president of the Ho-Chunk Nation, told News 3 many members of his tribe are concerned over the potential impacts of the pipeline and have lent their support, either through traveling to North Dakota to join the protests or by raising money at the tribe's gaming centers throughout Wisconsin.
Cleveland said it's a show of solidarity with the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe and indigenous peoples of North America.
"If you're an indigenous person, we all have the water, we all have the environment as a connection," Cleveland said. "Our ceremonies...may be different, but it's all (the same)."
Cleveland said protests reflect a concern for the future of not just Native American populations, but for the future of the country as a whole.
"The big concern that we have is not only for us, but it's for everyone, no matter what race you are," Cleveland said. "We know that these pipelines they're putting in -- it's not a chance of if they're going to burst, or if they're going to leak, it's when."
Mahoney said he visited Bismarck Wednesday as one of five law enforcement officials from across the country asked to advise the Morton County Sheriff's Office about how best to handle the protests.
Mahoney, who returned to Madison Thursday night, said he was specifically chosen because of his experience handling the 2011 protests at the Wisconsin State Capitol. He said he learned then that building trust with protestors was key--and remains so today.
"It comes down to building trust in those groups to ensure their right to protest, their right to exercise freedom of speech, their right to gather, but to do so in an orderly and lawful manner," Mahoney said.
Mahoney said when he visited the protest sites, he saw local law enforcement handling the protests appropriately.
"We went out to the demonstration sites and saw that...law enforcement was working very well with the protestors and trying to ensure their rights, but also maintaining public safety," he said.
Mahoney said retired Madison police Chief Noble Wray was also part of the delegation, in his role with the U.S. Department of Justice's Community Oriented Policing Services program.
Energy Transfer Partners, the company building the pipeline, has said the pipeline is safe and would bring in millions in dollars in sales and income taxes to state and local governments and would add thousands of jobs.
Protestors have told Bismarck's CBS affiliate, KXMB, that they will continue to protest the project despite Friday's federal ruling.