An interfaith celebration and prayer service is taking place Thursday evening ahead of Friday's Native Nations Rise march and rally in Washington, D.C.
"Water is life—so in attacking our water Donald Trump is attacking our lives, families, and right to self-determination."
—Dallas Goldtooth, Indigenous Environmental Network
The service at Washington National Cathedral will include members of the Standing Rock Sioux tribe, the Indigenous Environmental Network (IEN), and tribal nations from across the United States, as well as clergy and lay leaders from the Episcopal Church and various denominations.
Friday's demonstration, meanwhile, is expected to draw thousands. The march will depart from the Army Corps of Engineers office and end with a rally in front of the White House in Lafayette Park. Solidarity events are happening nationwide. As Common Dreams reported, native communities and their allies have been in the nation's capital since Tuesday, participating in lobby days and workshops.
Veterans for Peace is among the allied groups whose members are traveling to participate in the march and rally, declaring in a statement on Thursday: "We continue to stand in solidarity with the resistance at Standing Rock. As veterans, we see the connections between greed, racism, violence, and environmental destruction in our own communities, and war and militarism abroad."
Also Thursday, tribal representatives met with Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.), who was a vocal supporter during the fight to stop the Dakota Access pipeline (DAPL)—the battle that sparked Friday's day of action. Despite widespread outcry, President Donald Trump issued an executive order upon taking office advancing construction of the 1,172-mile oil pipeline. Indigenous activists and environmentalists predict further expansion of fossil fuel infrastructure under the oil-soaked Trump administration.
But they have vowed to fight back.
"You have more support than you know," Sanders reportedly told the group, citing the significant response his social media page receives on posts covering Native American issues. "Your job, my job, is to bring those people together to say to Trump and his corporate friends, he can't do this. But we need to a strategy to do that."
Indigenous Rising Media provided video of the meeting:
"This fight against the Dakota Access pipeline has sparked a powerful global movement calling for Donald Trump, Congress, and the U.S. government as a whole to respect Indigenous nations and people in our right to water, land, sovereignty, and culture," Dallas Goldtooth of IEN said ahead of the demonstration. "Indigenous people are not here to be your sacrifice zone for fossil fuel projects. Water is life—so in attacking our water Donald Trump is attacking our lives, families, and right to self-determination."