Marchers walked from the U.S. Corps of Engineers to the White House. Native News Online photos by Levi Rickert
Published March 10, 2017
WASHINGTON—Thousands of American Indian tribes from across Indian Country marched in Washington, D.C. today to raise awareness about the challenges of protecting their natural resources. The heightened awareness of Standing Rock Sioux Tribe’s fight for clean water has equally brought awareness about the flawed system of dispute resolution utilized by the judicial branch of the United States that Native Nations must navigate in their pursuit of protecting their natural resources.
Thousands of marchers walked from the U.S. Corps of Engineers to the Lafayette Square, in front of the White House.
During remarks, Chairman Dave Archambault II of the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe and Chairman JoDe Goudy of the Yakama Nation read the proclamation calling to question how historical documents of domination and dehumanization have historically—and in present day—been used against Native Nations and peoples.
The proclamation calls upon Pope Francis to revoke the historical Roman Catholic Church Papal Bulls of Dum Diversas (1452), Romanus Pontifex (1455), and Inter Caetera (1493), questioning their unholy orders of domination and dehumanization, and the manner in which these historical papal decrees laid the foundation of modern day Federal Indian Law. The historical papal decrees also resulted in the “Doctrine of Discovery,” utilized not only in the formation, but the current function of the U.S. government.
“The Dakota Access Pipeline crisis is a direct result of the United States government using the religious underpinnings of U.S. federal law against our Nations,” Chairman Goudy stated. “These religious underpinnings are traced to Vatican papal decrees from the fifteenth century that called for the subjugation of non-Christian nations, and they are being utilized against our Native Nations and Peoples to this day. This is the precedent that is relied upon for the continuous failed attempts to protect our resources in the federal courts.”
The proclamation highlights the extreme contradiction of the separation of church and state in dealing with disputes among Native Nations.
“The United States government claims the ‘right of Christian Discoverer’ to dominate our Nations, lands, and waters,” Chairman Archambault stated. “This claimed ‘right’ is stated in U.S. Supreme Court decisions—starting with Johnson v. McIntosh in 1823, and reaffirmed by Tee-Hit-Ton v. U.S. in 1955, City of Sherrill, N.Y. v. Oneida Indian Nation of New York in 2005, and many others.”
“In order for us to take the steps necessary to assure our own future, we have to understand historically what has happened to us and understand what is currently happening to us,” Archambault continued. “Once we understand the cause we can make the change.”
Water protectors on top of school bus outside the Trump International Hotel where marchers stop to demonstrate.
Standing Rock Sioux Tribe youth