Participants marched from the office of the Army Corps of Engineers, which has approved completion of the pipeline, to a rally at Lafayette Park across from the White House.
“Two years ago I had to explain where Standing Rock was,” Guy Jones, a Standing Rock Sioux who now lives in Dayton, Ohio, told the Washington Post. “Now the whole world knows where Standing Rock is.”
The battle to stop the pipeline began in 2014 and drew international attention last year when thousands came to support the Standing Rock Sioux, Cheyenne River Sioux, and other tribes fighting to defend their sovereignty. Energy Transfer Partners, builder of the pipeline, is tunneling under the reservoir that provides their water. The protests at the site ended last month.
President Donald Trump issued an executive order in January allowing the company to finish the last sections of the pipeline. The Standing Rock and Cheyenne River Sioux have filed a lawsuit seeking to halt the project, with a decision expected this month.
“We are not defeated,” Dave Archambault II, president of the Standing Rock Sioux, told the crowd. “And we are not victims.”
The feeling of solidarity and continued determination to fight among native people across the country and beyond inspired Ahjani Yepa and several others from Jemez Pueblo, New Mexico, to attend. “We were at Standing Rock and saw the unity of our peoples against the government and that corporation,” she told the Militant. “I hadn’t imagined there would be such unity between different groups of my people.”
“We have to stand up for Indian rights,” Lawrence Mann, a Potawatomi who came from Wisconsin, told the Militant. “We had to fight to close down a zinc and iron mine because it spoiled our water. It took 10 years but we did it.”
Elena Enriquez, 25, from Bowling Green, Ohio, spent last October at Standing Rock. “I came to the conclusion that the political, social and economic system is in the interests of the big corporations,” she said.
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