Hundreds of people from Northwest tribes and others gathered in Seattle Friday to support the Standing Rock Sioux’s fight to block the Dakota Access Pipeline from encroaching onto land they consider sacred and potentially threatening the tribe’s water supply.
Holding signs that said “Water is Life” and “#NoDAPL,” the demonstrators marched from Seattle City Hall to Westlake Park.
Matt Remle, who is Lakota, led the march with dozens of other drummers and addressed the crowd.
“If someone came with a bulldozer and started digging up the bones of your grandparents, your great grandparents — you would have the right to be pissed. You would be upset and angry. But for some reason, it’s OK to do that to our people,” he said. “In Seattle you would never see somebody take a bulldozer in one of the cemeteries here and desecrate sacred sites, where we go to pray, and nobody would bulldoze a church or synagogue or temple but they’re doing that to our lands.”
Christie Shipp of the Yakama Nation held a sign that means “Water is life” in her native language.
“We’re not protesters, we’ve been saying we’re protectors,” Shipp said. “We’re peaceful, we haven’t brought any weapons but they’re (mainstream media) trying to make us out as the stereotypical savages when they’re the ones bringing the dogs on us, macing us.”
Before the march, the marchers were addressed by Mayor Ed Murray and Councilmember Debora Juarez, who is a member of the Blackfeet Tribe, according to the Seattle Times.
The Standing Rock Sioux tribe says that the oil pipeline project on federally owned land in North Dakota goes through burial and prayer sites and could pollute the river that provides water to the tribal land in the case of a leak. The tribe and supporters from around the country have been camped in Cannon Ball, North Dakota, to protest the construction.
The Obama administration temporarily halted the construction of the pipeline earlier this month, to re-examine the permits to ensure that environmental laws were followed. Protesters welcomed the news, but vowed to maintain the pressure until construction around the disputed area ends.
Additional reporting and photography by Melissa Lin.