Washington, DC September 27, 2016 – In solidarity with the Dakota Access resistance camps at Standing Rock, hundreds gathered outside President Obama’s final White House Tribal Nations Conference yesterday for a rally opposing the Dakota Access Pipeline. The rally was held on the steps of the Andrew W. Mellon Auditorium and was organized by the Indigenous Environmental Network with support from non-native allies. Supporters carried banners and signs reading “Resist Dakota Access Pipeline” and “We Stand With Standing Rock Sioux” while several Native leaders addressed the crowd.
“We are fighting an entire system predicated upon the disregard and suppression of Indigenous rights, and Dakota Access is yet another example of that system in play,” said Dallas Goldtooth, National Organizer with the Indigenous Environmental Network. “On behalf of our rights and the sanctity of Mother Earth we must keep fossil fuels in the ground, we must and will stop the Dakota Access pipeline.”
Speakers at the rally included Standing Rock Sioux Tribal Chairman Dave Archambault II; Dallas Goldtooth of the Indigenous Environmental Network; Grace Claymore, Standing Rock Youth Representative; Brian Cladoosby, President of the National Congress of American Indians; Heather Wood-Mendoza, Lakota Native Rights Activist; and Lloyd Pikok, Tribal Vice President from the Native Village of Point Lay, Alaska.
Earlier yesterday, President Obama spoke about the Standing Rock Sioux during his remarks at the Tribal Nations Conference, saying, “I know many of you have come together, across tribes and across the country, to support the community at Standing Rock and together you’re making your voices heard.” On September 9th, following a court decision in favor of the pipeline, the Department of Justice, the Department of the Interior, and the Department of the Army issued a joint statement that temporarily stopped construction on one area of the pipeline pending further review and consultation with tribes.
“The Corps of Engineer’s failure to hold meaningful consultation with our Tribe before approving construction of the Dakota Access Pipeline is a violation of our rights,” stated Dave Archambault Jr., Chairman of the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe. “The Obama Administration has been an ally of the tribes and we appreciate that he will ask federal agencies to consider treaty rights in making decisions regarding natural resource projects. We hope that President Obama’s direction to federal agencies is a turning point for more meaningful government-to-government consultation.”
Over 200 tribes have now joined the Standing Rock Sioux in the fight against the pipeline, and reports from the ground say that there are over 4,000 people at the camp. With the fate of this pipeline now in President Obama’s hands, Tribal Leaders and allies across the nation are urging him to challenge the fossil fuel industry’s greed and stop the project permanently.