On Friday thousands of Indigenous peoples from hundreds of nations will march on Washington, D.C. along with their allies as part of “the call set forth by the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe to defend our inherent rights to protect Mother Earth and our water.”
Organized by the Native Nations Rise Committee, the march caps off almost a week of actions in the U.S. capital originally called to continue the fight of the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe for recognition of their treaty rights and their call to stop construction of the Dakota Access Pipeline.
Organizers, however, have made it clear that Friday’s action is about more than just one pipeline fight.
“The Standing Rock movement has evolved into a powerful global phenomenon highlighting the necessity to respect Indigenous Nations and their right to protect their homelands, environment and future generations,” said Native Nations Rise in a statement.
“We are here in D.C. to remind the Trump administration and Congress that this is a Standing Rock moment,” said Judith LeBlanc, director of Native Organizers Alliance, in a press conference ahead of Friday’s March.
“We are going to be standing against the desecration of Mother Earth. We are calling upon the people and our allies across the country, to stand with us in our fight to Tribal sovereignty and our fight for consent, not consultation. That is the only way we’ll be able to protect Mother Earth. That is the only way we’ll be able to save all of the people who live on this planet,” she added.
The march on Washington, which starts at 10 a.m., was called by the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe back in late January after President Donald Trump ordered the completion of the Dakota Access Pipeline project, which violates the tribe’s treaty rights.
Organized in collaboration with the Indigenous Environmental Network and the Native Organizers Alliance — who both played key roles in organizing the 10-month-long Oceti Sakowin camp action against the Dakota Access Pipeline — the march in D.C. is the first officially endorsed Standing Rock Sioux Tribe action, and is expected to be mirrored by solidarity actions in cities across the country.
Veterans for Peace, one of the allied groups marching on Friday, said in a statement on Thursday, “We continue to stand in solidarity with the resistance at Standing Rock. As veterans, we see the connections between greed, racism, violence, and environmental destruction in our own communities, and war and militarism abroad.”
Throughout the week activists have been meeting with policymakers demanding a recognition of Indigenous sovereignty and “consent and not just consultation” when it comes to the various “dirty energy” projects approved by the Trump administration.
In a meeting with march organizers on Thursday, Democratic Senator Bernie Sanders said “I think the American people, the average American, does not want to see (these kinds of projects). Your job, my job, is to bring those people together and say to Trump and his corporate friends that he can’t do this.”
“We have thousands and thousands of native peoples and allies descending upon Washington, D.C. to demand the Trump administration recognize Indigenous rights,” said march organizer Dallas Goldtooth. “It’s essential for us as Native peoples to rise up together, to speak out against the tyranny that is right now the White house administration.”