Thousands March in D.C. Defending Native People’s Rights and Opposing Dakota Access Pipeline
“City by city! Block by block! We must stand with Standing Rock!”
March 10, 2017 | Revolution Newspaper | revcom.us
Thousands of people filled the streets of D.C. standing with the struggle at Standing Rock. (Photo: @collinrees/Twitter)
Protesters defied wind, rain and hail, and the fascist Trump regime. (Photo:@tommiesunshine/Twitter)
In front of Trump Hotel in D.C., marchers chant "Trump must go!" (Photo: @aku_matu/Twitter)
Chanting “City by city! Block by block! We must stand with Standing Rock!” thousands of people from around the country marched on the White House opposing the Dakota Access Pipeline and defending Native people’s rights. The march took place in defiance of the Trump regime and bitter cold, wind and hail. It was the focal point of four days of protest, a concert, and other events in D.C. People carried massive props like a black snake-like “pipeline” with “NO PIPELINE” inscribed on it, and banners and flags from many Native tribes.
For the past year and more, the battle of the Standing Rock tribe in the Dakotas against a $4 billion oil pipeline has been an epicenter of the battle for Native people’s survival, and defending the environment. Thousands of people, from all around the world, joined in resistance at Standing Rock. Over two hundred different Native tribes participated—the largest gathering of Native tribes in resistance in the history of the U.S. The march in D.C. included a contingent of about 200 people from the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe.
Under the Obama administration, nearly a thousand people were arrested simply for standing up against the pipeline, many of them brutalized by militarized police and private mercenaries working for the pipeline company. At the same time, in the face of global outrage at the insult, injury and danger of a massive oil pipeline infringing on Native people’s treaty rights, the Obama administration temporarily paused construction just before last election. But four days into his regime, one of Trump’s first acts was to remove all government obstacles to the pipeline. (See Trump Order Gives Green Light to Dakota Access Pipeline ...). On February 7, 77 people were arrested at Standing Rock, and several face serious criminal charges.
Defending Indigenous Peoples and the Environment in the Time of Trump
In the period since Trump came into office, and in D.C., activists in the Standing Rock battle are making connections between the battle at Standing Rock, to historic and ongoing crimes of this system, and to the particular crisis posed by the Trump regime. The march route led past the doorway of Trump’s D.C. hotel, where people erected a teepee and chanted: “Donald Trump has got to go!”
Kristina Elote of the Jicarilla Apache Nation in New Mexico wore a huge “Make America Great” hat with a special decoration; she told reporters, “I saw the hat everywhere and I hated it. I wanted to do something about it so I put an arrow through it.”
In a speech near the White House on Friday, Standing Rock Sioux Chairman David Archambault II said, “Many tribes across this country and Indigenous Nations around the world are struggling with this very same problem—the imperialistic, conquistador spirit is so deeply embedded in Western and capitalistic society that hundreds of years later, our government is using the exact same arguments to disavow the safety and well-being of entire populations. Not only do they disrespect people of a different origin, they disrespect the treaty rights retained by the original Americans.”
“We are in dark and unknown territory. Very real threats to our way of life and our freedom are being issued daily, and we are facing a realistic dismantling of our country as we know it.”
And he said, “Fellow Americans; allies—I stand with you. I hope that you understand that this is the way my fellow Native Americans have felt for centuries. Now we are all in the same boat. We are facing a regime that has no regard for American values, and does not hesitate to fly in the face of the law to benefit the immature antics of an unhinged leader and his moneyed friends.
“We are here to resist hate and fear. All around the country we see protests and marches, it is obvious that we are at a tipping point where we must inevitably stand up for what is right. Never before in Indian Country have we experienced the level of public awareness and the strength in diverse numbers that we see now. We have reached a critical moment in time where citizens are realizing that we must stand for the core of humanity.”
Interviewed from shortly after his arrest at Standing Rock on February 7, Chase Iron Eyes—who has been on the front lines of resistance at Standing Rock and is an initiator of Refuse Fascism—told Carl Dix, “ [I]t’s clear that Trump is representing the interests of the corporate state. Indeed, what was known all along to be fascism, in its truly modern form. And Standing Rock is going to be one of the epicenters, as every airport was, during the Muslim ban, as probably another Indian reservation will be, when they try to build the wall. There are some Native nations that are going to say, no, you’re not going to build a wall here.” (See “On the Battle at Standing Rock and Resisting Trump: “The whole country is going to have to stand up and take risks“).
Resistance to trampling on Native people’s rights and destruction of the environment has spread over the past few months. Native Americans and others, some of them veterans of the encampment at Standing Rock, are resisting the Trans-Pecos pipeline in Texas, the Bayou Bridge Pipeline in Louisiana and the Sabal Trail Pipeline, which would carry natural gas from Alabama to Central Florida. These pipelines all threaten safety of the water of millions of people, are environmental nightmares in their own right, and contribute to pumping more fossil fuel products into the air, escalating deadly climate change.
Groups of people have remained camped at and near Standing Rock, while at the same time, activists have called for spreading the struggle nationwide. There have been protests in cities and on campuses across the country, including a march of 2,000 people in Los Angeles on February 5.
The heroic resistance at Standing Rock and beyond shines a bright light on the historic and ongoing crime of the genocide and theft of land of the Native peoples that is part of the foundation of what the rulers of this country call “the land of the free.” The Trump/Pence regime is hell bent taking things to a whole other, far worse state. In their first days in office, they began shredding the most minimal restrictions on environmental devastation and spitting on the just demands of Native peoples. They are aiming to cohere U.S. society on the most extreme and overt white supremacy. And, even beyond all that, they are racing to impose fascist repression. Resistance and support for Standing Rock must spread and become more determined. And most importantly, for the sake of humanity, this regime must be driven out before it can fully tighten its grip on the reins of power.
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