Cross Posted from Native News Network
Some 700 people celebrated Earth Day in San Francisco on Monday. The event was a combination of celebrating Mother Earth and demonstrating against the dangers of contamination the environment.
The marchers were led down Market Street by women drumming and singing the Women’s Warrior Song
Among the crowd were members of the Northern California Idle No More Solidarity, Bay Area Native Circle radio program, Voices of the Native Nation, Native Allies and Affinities groups and sixty six different environmental and social justice groups.
The day was organized as a day of non-violent civil action demonstration. Bradley Angel of Green Action was the primary organizational force behind this tremendous event.
Gathering Tribes Art Gallery was one of the early endorsers and helped organize and lead this coalition for environmental justice. Pennie Opal Plant, Yaquie/Cherokee/Choctaw, owner of Gathering Tribes Art Gallery, helped organize Idle No More Solidarity and Native Allies and Affinity groups for meetings.
David Solnit, activist for social and environmental justice offered a free banner making workshop hosted by Carol Wahpepah, executive director of Intertribal Friendship House in Oakland, California on April 20 in preparation for the event.
The demonstration began with a teach in about the ill effects of the Tar Sands Keystone XL Pipeline on climate change led by David Solnit.
Opal Plant led participants in various songs, and flyers were distributed to passing pedestrians. Many prayers were said for Mother Earth and women sang the Women’s Warrior Song while leading the group several blocks through San Francisco to the Environmental Protection Agency building located on Hawthorne Street.
More coalition groups met at this location, in order to let the EPA know just how strong the opposition is to the Keystone XL pipeline.
The crowd participated in a large round dance led by drummers Galeson Eaglestar, Lakota, and Frankie Rivera, Dineh Nation. While round dancers closed down Hawthorne Street, other participants painted a very large, water based acrylic painting of the earth, with the slogan, “Health, Not Pollution” in the middle of the street. Various members of the different coalitions represented spoke about the dangers to all our communities from oil refineries, Keystone XL pipeline, and the carbon exchange program.
Jared Blumenfeld, Regional Administrator of Region 9 of the US EPA was an invited guest speaker.
“My job is to focus on the 148 tribes within Region 9 to make sure they are provided with an environmental director and an environmental technician . In cases where state laws on the environment are weak, we want to make sure the federal laws are followed. We help these tribes with extra grants to make sure they get what they need”
“We told the Environmental Protection Agency one year ago that this Keystone XL Pipeline was a bad idea, and now we want the EPA to tell Washington again that it is a very bad idea as well as the carbon exchanges REDD program,”
stated Roberto Salamundo.
“This program will focus more on development and will steal from indigenous peoples of the South, and just continue to pollute the North”
The crowd was entertained by comic “Reverend Billy” with a hilarious interpretation of the EPA building itself as a representation of the “devil” and references to the Keystone XL Pipeline as a “devil snake slithering beneath us all.”
When the speakers ended, the marchers were led down Market Street by women drumming and singing the Women’s Warrior Song several miles while shutting down lanes of traffic on this main artery in San Francisco. Singers included Penny Opal Plant; Nanette Deetz, Dakota, Cherokee; Shawna Kelly, Cherokee, Gigage Remley, Cherokee and Mary Jean Robertson, Cherokee/Chocktaw.
Demonstrators were led to the US State Department building located at One Market Plaza, where more singing, drumming and prayers were said while staging a sit down in front of this building.
This street was also blocked off and another painting of Mother Earth was completed. Opal plant had this to say:
“Tar sands are so toxic in Alberta, Canada, that there are increasing rates of cancers and auto-immune diseases. The fish, fowl, deer and elk are exhibiting cancers and genetic mutations
“The people along the potential Keystone XL pipeline route, both native and non-native are very concerned. The route also passes through sacred sites, burial and important cultural sites. In addition to the damage to the Oglala aquifer people are concerned about the non-existing process to effectively clean up Tar Sands oil spills.
“The generation of people alive right now is the one to determine whether or not the next seven generations have an environment that is similar to the one we now enjoy. Whether or not the choice is conscious, it is still a choice. We must all rise up!”