Published October 2, 2016
CANNON BALL, NORTH DAKOTA – A delegation from The San Francisco Chinese Progressive Association joined the Native American led Water Defenders anti-Dakota Access Pipeline protest near Standing Rock Sioux Reservation in North Dakota on Thursday.
Delegate Linda Lee spoke before a gathered crowd, her voice sometimes breaking under the weight of welling tears, shared her family story.
Lee is one of 10 children of Mung refugee parents from Laos. Her family relocated to the US after fleeing the violence of the wars in South East Asia. After coming to the United States, Lee’s family made ends meet by gardening for their food.
California’s current historic and devastating drought has lead some local municipalities to restrict water so much, poor families have been unable to grow their gardens, leading to increased hunger.
“I am here because I know how important water is for our people, our community, and our survival,” said Lee, “I stand here in solidarity with you.”
Many scientists think the California drought is caused by global climate change, and fossil fuel use contributes to global climate change.
Cerise Palmanteer from of the Yakama and Colville tribes, arrived with the delegation. She offered words of commonality. The Yakama and Colville tribes are along the Colombia River. The Yakama and Colville tribes fought the construction of a damn on the Colombia River and lost. According to Palmanteer, the damn ruined the ecological balance, limiting the water and killing the fish.
In a moment of still stoicism, Palmanteer offered the crowd a succinct tribute to their effort. “They say history is written by the victors, so I say it is beautiful to see you victors writing history here.”
Water Defenders are protesting the creation of an oil pipeline which will travel under the Missouri River and over the Ogallala Aquifer. The Missouri River is the primary source of water for the Standing Rock Sioux Reservation. Ogallala Aquifer provides 30 percent of the fresh water used for agricultural irrigation in the United States.