On March 10, 2017, thousands of Indigenous activists from across the country gathered in Washington, D.C. for the Native Nations March to protest the Dakota Access pipeline and President Trump’s executive order allowing Energy Transfer Partners to commence building the uncompleted portion of the pipeline, directly adjacent to the Standing Rock Sioux Reservation. Led by the Standing Rock Sioux tribe, the march began at the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers headquarters and ended at Lafayette Square across from the White House.
Along the way, marchers stopped at Trump International Hotel, where they briefly erected a teepee. Participants were unfazed by the weather, despite rain and snow at the beginning of the march.
Throughout the march, activists shouted several call and response chants, such as, “Mni wiconi…Water is life,” “You can’t drink oil… Keep it in the soil,” and “Whose land… Our Land.” The march also included dancers wearing partial and full regalia, dancing along the route. Northern Cheyenne grass dancer Winfield Woundedeye danced most of the mile-and-a-half length parade route.
People carried banners and signs which echoed these ideas—that water is more important to life than oil—protesting Trump’s executive order, which also allows the pipeline to cross underneath Lake Oahe, the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe’s primary source of water.
After the march, Indigenous activists and supporters gathered in Lafayette Square to hold a rally, featuring performances by musicians Ulali, Gabriel Ayala, Prolific the Rapper, and Black Eyed Peas member and Shoshone tribal member Taboo.
At the rally, Tribal Chairman of the Standing Rock Indian Reservation David Archambault stated: “…we’re not defeated. And we are not going to be the victims. An obstacle is also an opportunity.”
After the rally, marchers and activists gathered at the National Mall, underneath teepees glowing with purple light - which had been set up earlier in the week - for food, dancing, drumming and singing.