North State Residents Rally on Day of International Protest Tribal Members Lead with Traditional Prayers in Support of Dakota Movement

Ben Gray Eagle

photo by Karen Laslo

Ben Gray Eagle from Yuba City plays the Bear Flute at the Chico rally. Gray Eagle pointed out that the Obama Administration’s intervention hasn’t stopped work on the Dakota Pipeline or the destruction of sacred sites.

by Leslie Layton

When Chico’s Jake Davis announced a City Plaza rally to show support for the indigenous groups trying to stop construction of a North Dakota pipeline, he feared only half a dozen people would show up.
Davis, co-founder of Chico350 – the international organization fights for clean energy and other measures to slow climate change – knows how hard it is to organize climate-justice protests outside of large cities. But what happened Sept. 13 at City Plaza was surprising and moving.

Almost 200 people showed up for the late afternoon rally, including members of tribes who live in Chico, Oroville, Corning, near the California coast and the state border with Nevada. Internationally, it was a day of protest in support of the #NoDAPL movement trying to stop the Dakota Access Pipeline (DAPL) that cuts across indigenous burial grounds, tribal sacred sites and underneath the Missouri River. “This ended up becoming a chance for indigenous people to have a voice,” Davis said Tuesday. “We thought it was just about stopping a pipeline, but it’s a lot bigger than that now. It’s bigger than Native or non-Native.”

A sage prayer bouquet filled the plaza with its smoky scent as tribal members sang and led prayers. Many of those who spoke Tuesday had family members participating in the movement near the Standing Rock Sioux Reservation or had been there themselves. Tribal members who call themselves “water protectors” are trying to block progress on the pipeline, pointing out that a leak could contaminate water supplies for millions of people.

Armida Rosalez said eight other people from the Enterprise Rancheria in Oroville had joined her at the rally. “Water is life to everybody,” she said. “I truly believe in this cause. We are here as guardians for our Creator.”

(Enterprise Rancheria is affiliated with Butte County’s Estom Yumeka Maidu tribe.)



photo by Karen Laslo

Steve Santos, Chico

Chicoan Steve Santos, a member of the Mechoopda, said he had come “in support of the protection of Native American sacred sites.” The #NoDAPL movement, he said, is a reflection of the “empowerment of Native Americans.”

But the Standing Rock protests have also become a rallying point for climate-justice activists who want to move the country away from fossil-fuel dependence, and thousands protested Tuesday in Washington, D.C., where former presidential candidate Bernie Sanders called on the Obama Administration to take further action that would effectively halt pipeline construction while a more thorough review is undertaken. More than 20 water protectors were arrested at the North Dakota site during Tuesday protests.

Chico resident Michelle Windes was one of many Native speakers at the Chico rally. “My father taught me the belief to save the Earth for the sixth generation,” she said. “How proud I am of the Sioux and all the Native Americans who are looking Goliath in the eye.”


photo by Karen Laslo


5 thoughts on “North State Residents Rally on Day of International Protest Tribal Members Lead with Traditional Prayers in Support of Dakota Movement

  1. I am so amazed the people came from Orville, Corning, the coast and Nevada! Thanks for publishing this, because I haven’t seen it anywhere else.

  2. I’m a little disturbed that our Candidate for City Council Mercedes Macias a latino/native spoke at the rally and received no coverage by Action News Now even though they filmed it and has not been mentioned in a single article. The Green Party has been in support of the Standing Rock Sioux from our President being charged by Morton County to our City Council Candidates speaking out and neither have receive any coverage. Coincidence?

  3. Thank you for writing about this, Leslie Layton. I’ve only seen one brief mention of the rally in local media outlets, a quick write-up in today’s Enterprise Record, on page A4.

  4. I am so glad that people in the Chico area rallied in support of the Standing Rock Sioux and their opposition of DAPL. Many thanks and prayers of blessing to all who are working to protect the water and land from destruction by short-sighted greedy people.

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