Published March 7, 2017
WASHINGTON – “The White House referred a request for comment to the Interior Department. That department referred the inquiry to the Corps, which did not immediately respond to a request for comment Tuesday.”
This quote is from a story by ABC News after they attempted to get a comment from the Trump White House regarding the “Native Nations March on DC” which is scheduled for this week. This quote also highlights the exact reason why this march is happening in the first place.
The US Government, and now President Trump, have a long history of marginalizing the voices and concerns of Native tribes and peoples, and that is no more apparent than in the approval process of the Dakota Access Pipeline. Over the past year, initiated by young people from the Standing Rock Sioux, hundreds of Native tribes and thousands of people have stood in solidarity and engaged in prayer, ceremony and intentional peaceful resistance against the Dakota Access Pipeline.
These protests have been largely ignored by President Trump, who had the audacity last month, when asked about his administrations approval of the pipeline, to say, “As you know I approved two pipelines that were stuck in limbo forever. I don’t even think it was controversial. You know I approved them, I haven’t even heard, I haven’t had one call from anybody saying, “Oh that was a terrible thing you did” I haven’t had one call.”
He concluded his remarks by adding, “And I think everyone’s going to be happy in the end. Okay?”
The organizers of the protest, Native Nations Rise Planning Committee, has published a (growing) list of demands they are bringing to the US Government and President Trump:
#TakeTheMeeting // President Trump must meet with tribal leaders to hear why it’s critical that the US government respect tribal rights. This administration must work with us.
#ConsentNotConsultation // Tribal interests cannot continue to be marginalized in favor of the interests of corporations and other governments. Consultation is not enough– we must require consent.
#NativeNationsRise // The Standing Rock movement is bigger than one tribe. It 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. We are asking our Native relatives from across Turtle Island to rise with us.
Activities will take place throughout the week beginning on Tuesday, March 7 with the construction of a symbolic camp and the lighting of a ceremonial fire on the NW grounds of the Washington Monument, in front of the White House. This camp will be the center of activity Tuesday through Thursday (overnight camping and non-permitted lodges will not be allowed).
Daily Schedule (Tues – Thurs):
10 AM Water Blessing
11 AM – 1 PM – Cultural Workshops
4–7 PM – Presentations / Speakers / Panels
On Friday, March 10 at 10 AM EST the protest, which is expected to draw thousands, will culminate with a march from the Army Corp of Engineers office at 443 G St. NW, DC, and cover a 2-mile route to the White House. At 12 PM a rally will be held at Lafayette Square.
Our elders, who led the resistance at Standing Rock, are very wise. When confronting companies driven by greed, and a government oblivious to their concerns, they modeled that the best resistance begins with prayer, ceremony and standing in solidarity.
And for the past nine months, that has happened.
Now it is time for the next step, acknowledgement and dialogue. I love that listed in the demands above, the goal is not merely lobbying or consultation which implies a differential in the power dynamic, but the goal is consensus, which requires relationship, agreement and even harmony.
I look forward to joining the protests this week. I look forward to marching from the Army Corps of Engineers offices to the White House. And I look forward to modeling for President Trump that life is so much more than negotiations and business transactions. Life is lived to its fullest when there is relationship and dialogue which hopefully leads to agreement and even harmony.
But that relationship cannot begin if the people (and their protests) are ignored and even the requests for comment are referred elsewhere.
If you would like to learn more about this event, you can visit the following websites:
Mark Charles (Navajo) serves as the Washington DC correspondent for Native News Online and is the author of the popular blog “Reflections from the Hogan.” His writings are regularly published by Native News Online in a column titled “A Native Perspective” which addresses news directly affecting Indian Country as well as offering a Native perspective on national and global news stories. Mark is active on Facebook, Twitter, YouTube and Instagram .
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This BBSNews article originally appeared on Native News Online.