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'If the Water Is Rising, Then So Must We': Indigenous Peoples March in Washington Against Global Injustice

"It's a collective cry for help because we're in a time of crisis," said one organizer. "Indigenous people from around the world are suffering from the same colonization."

march

Indigenous Peoples marched from the U.S. Interior Department to the Lincoln Memorial in Washington, D.C. Friday morning. (Photo: Samantha Eldridge/Twitter)

In an event described as "breathtaking, heartbreaking, strong, and beautiful," representatives from native communities around the world came together in Washington, D.C. on Friday for the first-ever Indigenous Peoples March.

Organized as a rebuke to the violence and injustices that Indigenous Peoples often face—from the murder of native girls and women to police brutality to having unceded tribal lands torn away by colonizing governments and fossil fuel corporations—the march kicked off Friday morning outside the U.S. Interior Department.

"I think it's a collective cry for help because we're in a time of crisis that we have not seen in a very long time," Nathalie Farfan, an Ecuadorian Indigenous woman and march organizer, told Remezcla earlier this week. "When I say crisis, I mean collective crisis. A lot of Indigenous people from around the world are suffering from the same colonization."

"This is the time to bring awareness to these injustices that have divided us all," Farfan added. "That's why we are saying unity is power, and we need all Indigenous people to come."

With a nod to human-caused global warming, which also inspired Indigenous groups to plan the march, one participant declared from the streets on Friday, "If the water is rising, then so must we." Supporters and marchers posted updates to social media with the hashtags #IndigenousPeoplesMarch, #IPMDC19, #WhyIMarch, and #WaterIsLife:

The march moved from the Interior Department to the Lincoln Memorial, where organizers planned an all-day rally, followed by an evening fundraising concert at the Songbyrd Music House. Indigenous leaders addressed the crowd at the memorial.

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Acknowledging that she feels a responsibility to educate federal lawmakers on Indigenous issues, as one of the first Native American women in Congress, Rep. Deb Haaland (D-N.M.), who was scheduled to speak at the rally Friday afternoon, said in a statement, "For too long Native communities have been left out of the national/global conversation, and our men, women, and children suffer because of it."

The main message of the march seemed to be captured by one speaker who said: "Today we stand in solidarity and truth. Today we are visible."

There were also multiple solidarity marches organized across North America. Several groups supporting women's rights, reproductive justice, gun control, and environmental conservation expressed support for and even joined the marches, highlighting how each of those causes are especially important for Indigenous communities:

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