Banners call tribal nations to action as the protest march starts off in Washington, D.C. Photo by Maxine Hillary
‘We’re still here and we’re not going away!’
Native Nations March on D.C.
By Maxine Hillary
Washington, D.C. Correspondent
nativesunnews.today WASHINGTON –– Tipis on the National Mall are nothing new. They were there at the Prayer Vigil for the Earth in 2011 and in all-night ceremonies honoring Native American veterans in 2014. Tipis also went up on the Mall in 2014 as farmers, ranchers, and tribal peoples in the Northern Plains joined in the Cowboy and Indian Alliance to protest the proposed Keystone XL Tar Sands pipeline. But this time it was different. The tipis on the Mall were a call to action to tribal nations across the country—even the world to stand up to what has been seen by many as a 360 degree pivot from environmentally-friendly policies to an avalanche of actions that threaten Indian Country and perhaps the entire nation. In the waning days of the Obama administration, not only had the Keystone XL pipeline been blocked, work on the Dakota Access Pipeline was suspended when the Army Corps of Engineers agreed to do an environmental impact study and look for alternative routes to avoid disturbing sites sacred to the Standing Rock Sioux and eliminating potential damage to the tribe’s water source. That all changed when as one of his first executive orders, President Donald Trump gave the thumbs up for Texas-based Energy Transfer Partners to resume drilling. Oil could be flowing by early spring. Beginning on March 7, tipi poles were in the ground kicking off four days of lobbying, ceremonies, cultural events, and discussions culminating in Friday’s march from the Army Corps of Engineers headquarters to a rally in Lafayette Square. The previous day’s 74 degree temperatures gave way to freezing rain and sleet—to some a blessing amid a growing apprehension that space opened by the previous administration for an improvement in tribal/U.S. government relations is closing. Manual Pino, President of the Indigenous Environmental Network traveled from his home on the Acoma Pueblo in New Mexico. Looking across to the White House, he voiced his frustration with the current administration’s lack of willingness to recognize the basic tenets of tribal engagement. Calling the recent developments surrounding the Dakota Access Pipeline and other executive orders “environmental genocide.” Pino said, “This is complete ignoration of the government-to-government relationship that should exist between this country and indigenous peoples. Federal environmental laws have been completely overlooked for the benefit of big oil and the almighty dollar.”
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