The Native Nations Rise March, held on March 10 in the heart of the nation’s capital, did exactly what it was intended to do.
The Standing Rock Sioux Nation’s David vs. Goliath-like battle against the federal government’s decision to approve the Dakota Access Pipeline to flow through the heart of the tribe’s water source, Lake Oahe in North Dakota, was highlighted in a glorious fashion. Thousands of indigenous marchers from around the globe joined Sioux citizens in letting the U.S. Army Corp of Engineers and President Donald Trump’s White House know that the pipeline is wrong on legal, religious and sovereign grounds. And they resolved to keep highlighting and working on the issue as it continues to wind through the American court system.
At the same time, even deeper issues became a part of the conversation, like tribal disgust for the U.S. government’s legal reliance on the ancient Doctrine of Discovery to overtake Indian concerns, a problem that arises in arguments before federal courts time and again. Standing Rock Sioux Chairman Dave Archambault II and Chairman JoDe Goudy of the Yakama Nation put out statements as part of the march against the doctrine, making the point that the tribal fight for clean water is also a time to raise awareness about an antiquated system of dispute resolution utilized by the U.S. judicial branch that views tribes as lesser institutions under Christian principles. The mainstream media, too, noticed the march with several popular news outlets covering the many pro-sovereignty Native perspectives involved here—which, as many in Indian country know, happens all too infrequently.