SAN FRANCISCO – Last Friday, March 10, between some 800 Natives and non-Native supporters gathered at the Federal Building in San Francisco for a march and rally that concluded at City Hall Plaza. Idle No More San Francisco organized the march and rally in solidarity and support of the encampment and march taking place in Washington, D.C. on the same day.
The march and rally was a peaceful show of support for the Standing Rock Sioux tribe and a strong statement against the proposed Dakota Access pipeline. The opening prayer was offered by Chochenyo Ohlone activist and leader Corrina Gould. The opening prayer song was offered by Rumsen Ohlone singer, dancer, cultural presenter, Wicahpiluta Candelaria. An overview of native rights, and information about the Indigenous Women’s treaty was given by the M.C. Patricia St. Onge, Mohawk/French Canadian.
“Grandmother, Creator, help us to do our work here, ancestors we ask you to hold us up from below, above, and all around us, as we set down prayers here for the next seven generations. Help us as we look at different ways to get the energy we need to live…we pray for all of those people standing up all over the world, and prayers for those now in Washington, D.C. We pray that the people now inside those houses that are white will open their minds and their hearts. We pray that we continue to take care of the oceans, the rivers, the streams, all of our precious water sources, the source of all life,” said Corrina Gould.
Spiritual leader Norman “Wounded Knee” DeOcampo offered a prayer: “Thank you Grandmother moon, for shining upon us and watching over all of us here tonight. I want to ask all of you, what are you gonna do when they come for you in the morning? When they come for our resources, for our civil rights, native rights, gay rights, what are you gonna do? I know that I am going to pray to the Creator who has watched over us, given us these prayers and medicines. I know that power is greater than those now holding political power, and that boy now in the white house. Non-Native people, know that we as Native people know the genocide that has been done to us. All I have is my prayer.”
“We must continue to make sure we have fresh water. This is a problem in every community. We must continue to fight genocide. But look at us, we are still here, and we must support each other to make a life for every one of us”. One of the chants for the evening’s rally was, “We exist, we resist, and we survive”. Journey Zeipher, a Yankton Sioux, and one of the youth group currently suing the Trump administration said, ” Our generation has had enough of fossil fuels. At this rate, 80 percent of all life will be extinct through climate change, GMO’s, food shortages, aquafer depletion, and droughts. Future generations are depending on us not to give up this fight for all life on this planet. Our ancestors are depending on us to never give up, and we will not,” stated Chris Longoria, from the Caddo Nation of Oklahoma.
Several local organizations were present and spoke to the crowd about their on- going activities. Rochelle Driver from the International Indian Treaty Council spoke about how the current policies put forward by the Trump administration could negatively affect tribal programs across the country.
In the crowd was former Green Party presidential candidate, Dr. Jill Stein with Francisco Herrera who is one of the leaders and organizers of the San Francisco Green Party. Mr. Herrera also ran for the mayor of San Francisco, as well as supervisor in the last election.
Erik Rydberg (Kashia Pomo), International Indian Youth Council, Green Party organizer; Francisco Herrera, (Mexica, Chicano) One of the leaders and organizers of the San Francisco Green Party; Dr. Jill Stein, Presidential Candidate for the Green Party at Idle No More SF march and rally.
“We had planned a Green Party rally here in San Francisco at the same time as this rally and march. I decided to cancel it, and asked all my supporters to attend this march and rally instead. I felt that this is the main issue that interconnects all of our struggles today in the U.S., water is central to all life, and the civil rights of indigenous nations here in the U.S. are being violated. Treaty rights have been ignored for too long. The right to clean water, land, housing, education, health care are rights that should be afforded all of us. Big oil corporations should not be dictating policy for their own profits,” said Dr. Stein.
Erik Rydberg (Kashia Pomo) also attended with Dr. Jill Stein. Rydberg is a member of the International Indian Youth Council from Standing Rock and worked on the video for Red Fawn. He is working to stop the Jordan Cove pipeline that will threaten the Klamath, Yurok, and Hoopa Nations if allowed to be laid under the Klamath River. This natural gas pipeline will also extend into southern Oregon, and go under the Rogue River and out to Coos Bay, to be sold to China.
Photographs by Nanette Deetz