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April 2017

Indigenous-led rebellion at Standing Rock and beyond

Gina Petry

Over a year ago, the Sacred Stone camp was established on the Standing Rock Sioux Reservation to fight the Dakota Access Pipeline. Since then opposition has taken many forms and is not over.

Earlier this year, a call was put out by the Standing Rock tribe and Indigenous leaders for a national day of action on March 10, “Stand with Standing Rock: Native Nations March on Washington.” Thousands of tribe members and allied activists gathered in D.C. for four days to send the message of defending water and Indigenous rights and land.

Gina Petry at Standing Rock Gina Petry speaking at a DeFund DAPL rally.

In Seattle, the Freedom Socialist Party and Radical Women participated in a solidarity rally and march sponsored by the DeFund DAPL Coalition and local tribes. Radical Women was asked to be a co-sponsor and I was invited to speak at the rally about my experience at Standing Rock.

Solidarity was strong at the protest. I got a very enthusiastic response when I spoke about the importance of the leadership of Indigenous women and youth and called for capitalism to become extinct. RW and FSP members made new connections with Native folks and activists fighting for fundamental change.

In February, the larger camps at Standing Rock were evicted from federal land. However, there are newer, smaller camps on other parts of the Standing Rock reservation and on Cheyenne River Sioux land. Both tribes are joined in ongoing legal fights against the pipeline. Meanwhile, the movement for divestment has momentum, as individuals, cities and tribes have taken more than $5 billion from banks that finance DAPL. The City of Seattle is the biggest de-funder to date.

Indigenous-led resistance is also revving up in other places. In Canada and the U.S., many tribes and activists are organizing against the Keystone XL pipeline. First Nations in British Columbia are joining together against the Kinder Morgan pipeline.

As Tom Goldtooth, director of the Indigenous Environmental Network, said, “Donald Trump should expect far greater resistance than ever before. Indigenous people are rising up and fighting like our lives, sovereignty, and climate depend on it — because they do.”