The People Vs. Fossil Fuels actions this past week in Washington, DC — 655 arrests! — brought back a lot of memories. In November of 1972 I was living in DC when the continent-wide Trail of Broken Treaties arrived there and took over the Bureau of Indian Affairs. I spent time outside the BIA building in the evenings in support. Then, several months later, after local activists and the American Indian Movement occupied buildings in Wounded Knee, SD on the Pine Ridge Reservation, and after a call went out for non-Indigenous people to come there in support, I did so. I stayed for two-plus weeks, helping to set up a support and communications office in Rapid City.
The leadership and visibility and inspiration and music and drumming and actions of Indigenous people from around what is now called the United States were such a very big deal this past week! To feel and experience this beating heart of resistance from peoples who have been under a terrible and wicked, life-draining siege for so long; to be moved by and dance to the sound of the drums; to be inspired by the deep, deep earth wisdom of Casey Camp Horinek; to be there able to respond and actively support the flag pole actions at the Army Corps of Engineers Tuesday afternoon; to be able to support the sit-in led by elders inside the Bureau of Indian Affairs/DOE building Thursday afternoon — these are experiences I will not forget.
Each day of the week began with well-organized actions at the White House. There were very big puppets and colorful banners and flags made by people who knew what they were doing, visuals to go along with the theatre of negotiated arrests by the police of the scores of people daily clogging the sidewalk right next to the White House fence. Throughout all this time each day of marching to and arriving at the White House, setting things ups, being given three warnings by the police, and then the arrests, there were short, amplified presentations by frontline leaders of fights against new fossil fuel infrastructure all over the country — Alaska, New Mexico, Texas, Minnesota, Virginia, West Virginia, Louisiana, Nebraska, California, Alabama, South Dakota, Pennsylvania, North Carolina, New Jersey, New York and more. There were passionate chants and singing.
Other dramatic actions took place Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday afternoons.
Tuesday’s was at the Army Corps of Engineers. The focus was on Line 3 in Minnesota. A million signatures…