Washington, DC – Thousands of Native Americans are marching in the US capital to protest against the construction of the Dakota Access pipeline and raise awareness of indigenous rights.
With snow falling on Friday morning, demonstrators marched towards the White House, stopping on the way at the Trump International Hotel to erect a teepee.
The Standing Rock Sioux Tribe, which has been involved in a longstanding dispute with authorities over the pipeline in North Dakota, led the march along with advocacy groups.
— Mike Chelen? (@mchelen) March 10, 2017
The tribe has argued in court that the pipeline crosses sacred land, was approved by the government without adequate consultation, and would contaminate its water supply.
“Water is life,” chanted Jobeth Brownotter, a Standing Rock member who travelled for 32 hours by bus from South Dakota.
“We came here to stand up for our people, for water, for our rights, for future generations,” she told Al Jazeera.
Betsy Richards, of the Cherokee Nation tribe of New York state, marched under a huge pipeline-shaped puppet, with the text “No consent, no pipelines”.
|Jobeth Brownotter said the protest was a way of standing up for Native American rights [Cajsa Wikstrom/Al Jazeera]|
“When things are happening on native lands, we need to not just be informed of what the government is doing to us, but to have consent as native nations,” she said.
The march comes as a federal judge in Washington, DC considers a request by the Standing Rock Sioux and Cheyenne River Sioux tribes to stop construction of the last section of the Dakota pipeline, which would cross under Lake Oahe near the Standing Rock Sioux reservation reservoir.
Last November, the US Army Corps of Engineers denied the permit to build the $3.8bn pipeline
But in January, US President Donald Trump signed an executive order instructing them to “review and approve” the project “in an expedited manner”.
The Standing Rock Sioux tribe has fought the pipeline project for years.
Recently, they maintained a months-long protest camp near the construction zone that drew Native Americans from hundreds of tribes, bringing attention to the indigenous rights movement.
|Kristina Elote said Native Americans are tired of companies profiting from their resources [Cajsa Wikstrom/Al Jazeera]|
Taking a jab at Trump, Kristina Elote from the Jicarilla Apache Nation tribe in New Mexico wore an oversized “Make America Great Again” hat, with a Native American twist.
“I saw the hat everywhere and I hated it. I wanted to do something about it so I put an arrow through it,” she said.
“We need to keep our sovereignty, to keep our land safe. We’re tired of companies taking advantage of our resources,” she added.
Standing Rock and the Battle Beyond – Fault Lines
Source: Al Jazeera News