Thousands of indigenous nations and activists marched to Trump's doorstep on Friday, protesting against the construction of the Dakota Pipeline.
The Native Nations Rise march and rally, began at the headquarters of the U.S Army Corps of Engineers and continued 1.5 miles to the White House gate.
Protesters sang tribal songs, wore tradition garb and chanted in their native languages, letting Trump know that they were here to stand with Standing Rock. In a symbolic message, protesters left a giant “Make America Great Again” hat with an arrow through it in front of the White House.
“The incoming President wants to make this country great again. He can, but he can’t leave tribes behind,” said tribe chairman Dave Archambault II in an interview with the New Yorker.
On January 24th President Trump signed the executive order requesting that the Secretary of the Army expedite their approval of the Dakota Access Pipeline. The DAPL project, which was halted by the Obama administration in December, would consist of building a 1,172 mile-long pipeline that would extend from North Dakota to Southern Illinois, carrying crude oil.
Protests have occurred in opposition to the pipeline’s planned route crossing through the Standing Rock Sioux tribe's land, which would disrupt their sacred grounds and potentially threaten their main water source.
Since 2015, the community of Standing Rock and their allies have been fighting against the pipeline, enduring extreme violence and numerous arrests and injuries. In 2016, law enforcement doused protesters with water in 22-degree weather, injuring over 300 and sending 26 to the hospital for wounds, internal bleeding, and hypothermia.
Standing Rock protesters have already endured water cannons, pepper spray, tear gas, and beanbag rounds, yet they are still willing to stand up for their land and for the millions of people who live along the Missouri River and rely on its water.
The pipeline would violate the Fort Laramie Treaty, which was signed by the U.S government in 1851 and which formally recognizes the land in question as property of the Sioux Nation. In halting construction of the pipeline, the Obama administration expressed hope that the pipeline could be redirected. The administration further agreed to consult with the tribe and put pressure on the Corps to have the orders reversed—but it has become clear that Trump and his administration have no intention of honoring this agreement.
This week, a federal judge has already signed an order refusing to halt any construction.
“All of our hearts are broken,” said Linda Black Elk, a member of the protest’s healer council, in a live video from the camp. “I’m just going to ask you guys to keep us all in your prayers. Pray for the water. Pray for the people. Pray for the water protectors. Pray for the tribe.”
Want to take a stand with Standing Rock? Here’s how you can get involved: