Chicago stands with Standing Rock

On Sept. 9, one thousand people came out on the streets of Chicago to stand in solidarity with the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe in their struggle against the Dakota Access Pipeline in Cannon Ball, ND. It was an evening of prayer, speech, dance and struggle, led by the newly formed NoDAPLChicago Coalition. The action was mostly Native, but featured a host of multinational supporters coming from different struggles and backgrounds. This multinational character was remarked on by many speakers as being a prime source of strength, especially when fighting against billion dollar corporations with enormous resources as their disposal.

The action began with a rally at Daley Plaza in downtown Chicago, where participants formed a large circle amid burning sage before speakers expounded on the connections between Illinois and North Dakota. “This pipeline is coming to Illinois,” said Al Eastman of the DAPLChicago Coalition, “and so we must stand in solidarity … and raise our voices here in Chicago. … There are already too many pipelines through our land.”

Indeed, the planned route for the pipeline snakes through several states before joining up with an already existing pipeline in Patoka, Ill., demonstrating the material connection that binds the struggles between various locations. Since each piece of the pipeline is essential for its functioning, the people in Cannon Ball are, by their struggle, already providing real support to those in Illinois, where 63 percent of pipeline has already been completed. This rally was touted as one way to return that support.

Shortly after 5 p.m., the people took to the streets, marching through downtown Chicago while singing, dancing, drumming, chanting “Mni Wiconi—Water is Life!” and “White, Black, Yellow, Red: Without Water, We’re All Dead!”

During the march, a soft, refreshing rain began to fall, driving home the point made earlier by speaker Janie Pochel that, “Water is our first medicine.”

The marched continued through the streets before coming to the offices of the Army Corps of Engineers, the institute that granted the right of way access for the pipeline beneath the Missouri river. Nick Estes of the Red Nation spoke of the Army Corps’ role in displacing Native people, and the importance of bringing our message to their front door. “We marched on Chicago to remind the city that we never disappeared, and that we won’t shut up … to remind them that generations before have fought them, and that we here will do it again.”

After another speak out in front of the Army Corps’ offices, the march continued through the city, with high enthusiasm and plenty of drumming and dancing before coming to the headquarters of Mizuho bank, one of the financial backers of the Dakota Access Pipeline. Pipelines are, of course, big business. It’s the need for corporations to squeeze every last drop of profit from an already exhausted earth that compels their construction; that demands the poisoning of aquifers and the desecration of sacred sites in order to generate a little more income for shareholders. Nick Estes summed up this view when he declared at the rally’s end in front of the bank’s headquarters that, “For all Nations to live, capitalism
must end.”

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