FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: September 13, 2016
Washington, DC — Thousands of people across the country joined over 200 rallies in nearly all 50 states to call on President Obama to stand with the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe in their fight to protect their water and sacred cultural sites from the Dakota Access Pipeline.
At a rally in front of the White House, Senator Bernie Sanders joined Native American leaders and activists to show his solidarity with the growing movement.
“It is vitally important that we show our solidarity with the Native American people of this country,” said Senator Sanders. “We cannot allow our drinking water to be poisoned so a handful of fossil fuel companies can make more in profits. This pipeline must be stopped. I am calling on President Obama today to ensure that this pipeline gets a full environmental and cultural impact analysis.”
“We are here to tell the President stop Dakota Access. This is a violation of human rights and indigenous rights,” said Tara Houska with Honor the Earth, who addressed the crowd of thousands in DC. “This pipeline cannot and should not happen. We are here to protect our drinking water and sacred sites for indigenous people.”
Indigenous groups such as Honor the Earth and the Indigenous Environmental Network joined with national groups like the Sierra Club, CREDO Action, and 350.org to organize today’s national day of action. At rallies across the country, many local organizers connected their solidarity rallies to local fights against fossil fuel infrastructure.
“Regardless of the decision that was made, we aren’t going anywhere until the pipeline is dead,” said Kandi Mossett with the Indigenous Environmental Network. “We’re not here just to stop one section, we are here to stop the pipeline in it’s entirety. President Obama: the fossil fuel industry is dying. Help us invest in renewables and divest from fossil fuels. What will your legacy be? Stand with us for future generations or stand with the fossil fuel industry. Right now, politicians are bought out by the fossil fuel industry and our resistance here in North Dakota should be a wake up call. We won’t stand for this any longer.”
In recent weeks, a massive wave of inspiring grassroots opposition, led by Native Americans and joined by allies in North Dakota and Iowa, has been building in opposition to the pipeline, which would carry 450,000 barrels of dirty oil per day from North Dakota to Illinois, cutting through land and water sacred to the tribes.
In response to this activism – with protests and civil disobedience in North Dakota temporarily halting construction in recent days and 51 protestors being arrested in Iowa so far – the Department of Justice, the Department of the Army and the Department of the Interior issued a joint statement Friday recognizing the critical issues being raised by the Tribe in their fight against the pipeline and temporarily halting construction until a thorough review of the project has taken place.
Today’s events built on this momentum, with more than 200 events taking place in 40 states calling for a permanent halt to this project. Rallies were coordinated by national and local climate and environmental organizations and landowners’ rights groups, joining as allies in solidarity with tribes at the Sacred Stone camp.
“Today’s rallies show that the indigenous people in North Dakota and landowners in Iowa leading the fight to stop the Dakota Access pipeline have broad and deep support nationwide,” said CREDO Deputy Political Director Josh Nelson. “Today should also serve as a warning to the fossil fuel industry,” Nelson continued, adding, “people power has stopped dirty oil pipelines before – and it will do it again.”
“It’s the Standing Rock Sioux’s principled and courageous efforts that galvanized the country and inspired these unity events,” said Sierra Club Executive Director Michael Brune. “The Sierra Club is proud and honored to stand with the Tribe, and will continue to work to ensure that this pipeline is rejected.”
“We’ve been here before, facing long odds against a pipeline everyone said would be built. Just as indigenous leaders, landowners, and the climate movement came together to stop Keystone XL, we’re now standing with the Standing Rock Sioux to stop Dakota Access,” said 350.org Executive Director May Boeve. “Real climate leadership means keeping fossil fuels in the ground. It’s time for President Obama to turn this pause into a permanent rejection.”