Local activists called the president’s executive actions to boost the projects Tuesday a “devastating reversal” in their efforts to protect the Standing Rock Sioux tribe’s rights, water supply and sacred sites.
An “emergency rally” in downtown Seattle filled Westlake Park Tuesday evening, after what organizers called a “devastating” move by President Trump hours earlier that rebuked their efforts to protect the Standing Rock Sioux tribe’s rights, water supply and sacred sites.
With drums, songs and prayer, leaders aimed to spur activism against the president’s executive actions to advance the Keystone XL and Dakota Access oil pipelines. Among the rally’s speakers was Quinault Indian Nation President Fawn Sharp, who urged solidarity.
“No matter who you are,” she told the crowd, “you have that precious vision for the future that you have with your children, your grandchildren and several generations out. We all stand united to make sure no power establishment will take that from us.”
The Seattle rally echoed sentiment across the country Tuesday among environmental groups, Native American tribes and their supporters — people against the pipelines who have fought the projects for years. Tribal opponents said Tuesday they will battle a revival of the Dakota Access Pipeline (DAPL) project in court.
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“We are deeply concerned,” said Brian Cladoosby, president of the National Congress of American Indians and chairman of the Swinomish Indian Tribal Community. Many Washington tribes have supported the opposition to DAPL with money, donations and repeated travels to the site.
Rachel Heaton, of the Muckleshoot Tribe, who helped organize the rally Tuesday night, said she was devastated but not surprised by Trump’s action. She said pipeline opponents now back home from the North Dakota protest camps are either going to return or turn up the volume at home, but the fight is just beginning.
- Background stories: Here's a primer on the pipeline project, including the key players on all sides, a brief history of broken treaty promises and a closer look at the courtroom battle. And here's what we're reading related to the controversy.
- March 28: What the completed Dakota Access pipeline means for key players.
- Feb. 23: Dakota Access Pipeline protest camp closed; 46 holdouts arrested.
- Feb. 22: Preparing to leave, Standing Rock protesters ceremonially burn camp.
- Feb. 13: Judge rejects tribes’ bid to halt Dakota Access Pipeline; feds plan to shut down protest camp.
- Feb. 1: Hundreds rally as the Seattle City Council considers divesting from Wells Fargo because of its role as a Dakota Access Pipeline lender.
- Jan. 24, 2017: Donald Trump signs executive orders advancing the Keystone and Dakota Access pipelines. The Standing Rock Sioux tribe says it will push back.
- Dec. 4, 2016: Tribes celebrate as Corps rejects Dakota Access pipeline easement
- Nov. 21: Washington tribes urge that Obama stop, reroute Dakota Access Pipeline
- Nov. 12: Hundreds rally in Tacoma against Dakota Access Pipeline
- Live updates from from Seattle Times journalists on the scene Oct. 26, 27 and 28.
- Oct. 25: Tribes in Washington state call on President Obama to improve federal consultations over infrastructure projects
- Oct. 24: Citing treaty claim, protesters occupy land a rancher recently sold to pipeline developer Energy Transfer Partners.
- See photos from the Dakota Access Pipeline protests.
“This is a slap in the face to indigenous communities, to our treaty rights, everything we stand for,” Heaton said. “We will remain prayerful and peaceful, and we are not going to stop until this drill pad is dismantled and DAPL leaves.”
Roy Murphy, of the Muckleshoot Tribe, said he is beginning a protest walk across the country to Standing Rock and then to Washington, D.C. An opponent of the pipeline who stayed in a North Dakota protest camp for months, Murphy said his commitment remains strong.
Millie Kennedy, a lawyer from Des Moines and a Tsimshian Alaska Native, said the struggle ahead is all too familiar to native people. “We have been fighting for 500 years, and we are not about to stop now.”
Seattle Mayor Ed Murray and Seattle City Councilwoman Debora Juarez issued statements Tuesday opposing Trump’s order and supporting pipeline opponents.
Chanting and waving signs, the Seattle group Tuesday briefly marched downtown, including across Pine Street to Wells Fargo Bank, which is one of numerous banks lending money to the Dakota project.
Tess Meyer, a stay-at-home mom from Renton, joined with her family. Her eldest of three small children, Jackson, held a homemade sign reading, “Oil doesn’t run the world, it ruins it.”
The pipeline is intended to carry up to half a billion barrels a day of crude from the Bakken in western North Dakota, to connect with other pipelines at Patoka, Ill. The company has said the pipeline will be a cheaper and safer way to bring oil to market than either trucks or trains.