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Thursday, February 22, 2024

Water is sacred, water is life

Morgan Tieu / AGGIE
Morgan Tieu / AGGIE

Protesters gather at State Capitol Building for NODAPL rally

“Water is sacred, water is life,” chanted hundreds of demonstrators in protest of the Dakota Access Pipeline at the front of the State Capitol building in downtown Sacramento on Nov. 8.

For the past several months, national attention has been drawn to the controversial Dakota Access Pipeline in North Dakota. Thousands have traveled to the Standing Rock Indian Reservation to protest with the Sioux tribe, including Sophia Baker, one of the Sacramento rally organizers.

“My cousin Lilly and I created the event on Facebook after my boyfriend and I came back from North Dakota,” Baker said. “We came back here and decided we needed to do something for people who can’t go out to North Dakota in California.”

From there, they immediately went to work. Lilly Baker spearheaded the event by calling different local tribes and getting people to come together. The event also included guest speakers from the Coyote Valley Band of Pomo Indians from Mendocino County and the Chippewa tribe, as well as a youth group that performed a tribal dance. According to Baker, the main objective was to bring the issue to a broader scale and make more people aware of the pipeline’s potential consequences.  

Initially, the pipeline was supposed to run through North Dakota’s capitol, Bismarck, The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers deemed this pipeline option not viable and rerouted it to run through the land of the Sioux, who argue that this violates indigenous rights and several treaties. In fact, much of the controversy surrounding the pipeline centers around the right to clean water.

The pipeline runs beneath the Missouri River, the main water source for the tribe. Protesters argue that such a vital resource for life shouldn’t be put under such a large scale risk. Many also argue that if the pipeline were to have an accidental leak or rupture, the Sioux would be left without clean water for an extended period of time.

Priscilla Hunter of the Coyote Valley Band of Pomo Indians shares this fear.

“Indian people are getting tired. Enough is enough you know?” Hunter said. “Destroying our sacred lands, destroying the water and the environment, for our children, that could poison a lot of water and rivers.”

According to Hunter, 10 tribes in Mendocino County alone have passed resolutions to stop the pipeline. Efforts have reached people across the nation thanks to social media according to Fred Short, the American Indian spiritual leader for California.

“This is how information gets out,” Short said. “Now you can see on Facebook and the Internet you know, it’s all over with people putting out all the information. We have people here that are returning from Standing Rock, and they’ll be able to share some of that […] it’s no longer people standing still and saying nothing.”

The pipeline was expected to be completed by Jan. 2017, but protests could potentially cause this date to be moved later. As the issue gains more attention, more protests are organizing in local areas around the country in hopes of getting politicians to stand with Standing Rock.

“We need to hold all of our politicians and all of our corporations accountable for what they’re doing to people and their right to clean water,” Baker said in a closing remark at the event. “There’s no politics involved in it, it’s literally people’s right to clean water that we’re trying to get people to focus on. If they can do it in North Dakota, they can do it anywhere.”


Written By: Andie Joldersma city@theaggie.org


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