The People’s Climate March in Washington DC last weekend was another watershed moment for Indigenous Peoples, in a year rife with them. Leading off the march—something they also did during the 2014 march in New York City—in the U.S. capital brought indigenous knowledge, history and treaty rights to the fore at a national level.
Dallas Goldtooth of the Indigenous Environmental Network took a moment to speak with Indian Country Media Network (ICMN) about the overall impression of what the day meant to indigenous people.
“First and foremost, seeing a march of over 200,000 people in which Native peoples are not only at the front of it but also recognized at the front of it says a lot for our inherent rights,” he said. “Not only that but also to recognize the impact that climate change has on our communities and Nations.”
Further, this new awareness is not just within the U.S. mainstream but also is rising within Indian country itself, Goldtooth said.
“The second part is just, Indian Country is waking up in a different way. We are seeing that we are actually having an impact on this society,” he said. “We no longer have to be in the back room dealing with our own stuff. We now have a say in the direction of energy policy, and we have a say in what happens in this country, and we have to take ownership of it—to live up to it and take action from that, and hopefully keep going forward with it.”
As many as 200,000 people converged on Washington for the April 29 march, which coincided with President Trump’s 100th day in office. Native youth and elders led the march, with Leonardo DiCaprio also at the front, holding a sign that read, “Climate Change Is Real.”
Aimed at pushing back against the Trump administration's assault on environmental protections, the march brought together people from diverse backgrounds. It ended near the Washington Monument, at a stage where water protectors and other activists addressed the crowd, interspersed with musical acts.
The Native community continued celebrating afterward with a social featuring dancers and food. The social also reunited many people who had stood together at Standing Rock. Here are some more amazing photos of that day.