From WILL PARRISH
On Sunday, November 6, in Redwood Valley, several hundred people gathered to listen to activists report back from Standing Rock where they had stood in solidarity with Native American Tribes, known as Water Protectors, opposing the Dakota Access Pipeline.
One such speaker was Jassen Rodriguez, a Mishewal Wappo tribal member whose ancestral landbase includes much of Sonoma, Napa, and southern Lake counties. He had just returned from a three-week sojourn to North Dakota, where had had stayed at Oceti Sakowin, or Seven Council Fires, an encampment named for the seven bands of the Sioux people where a ceremonial fire has remained burning for many months.
Elders at Standing Rock had granted Rodriguez the responsibility of tending the sacred fire on behalf of the entire camp, and he choked back tears as he recounted the experience.
“It was the greatest honor of my life,” Rodriguez said. “It was an incredible blessing. The entire experience was a spiritual awakening.”
Opposition to the Dakota Access Pipeline has galvanized support from all over the world. Constructed mainly by Fortune 500 company Energy Transfer Partners, the pipeline originates in the Bakken oil patch and traverses North Dakota, South Dakota and Iowa, and ends in Illinois, linking to transmission routes to the East Coast and Gulf Coast.
For several months, indigenous people, environmentalists and Great Plains residents have protested the project because it threatens water quality and myriad sacred sites of the Standing Rock Sioux. It will also contribute to the global climate crisis.
On December 4th, the Standing Rock resistance achieved a major breakthrough when the Army Corps of Engineers denied Energy Transfer Partners’ request for an easement to build the pipeline beneath the Missouri River, requiring a full environmental impact statement before that part of the project can proceed.