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.
The #IndigenousPeoplesMarch is calling attention to the injustices faced by Native communities, including:
• The epidemic of missing and murdered Indigenous women
• An "environmental holocaust" on Indigenous lands
• Voter suppression
• Police brutality pic.twitter.com/2JDRaE6lmz
— AJ+ (@ajplus) January 18, 2019
"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:
— PFAW (@peoplefor) January 18, 2019
— Women's March (@womensmarch) January 18, 2019
Today, Indigenous activists and allies are taking to the streets of Washington, D.C. to call attention to injustices faced by Indigenous people and communities all over the world. Show them your support! #IndigenousPeoplesMarch #IPMDC19 pic.twitter.com/W1UaYSg6nC
— UnitedStateofWomen (@USOWomen) January 18, 2019
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."
— Jourdan Bennett-Begaye (@jourdanbb) January 18, 2019
Here at the Lincoln Memorial where many great leaders stood, where MLK stood, for the Indigenous Peoples March. Bringing awareness to our shared struggles and celebrating the beauty of our people! #IPMDC19 #INDIGENOUSPEOPLESMARCH #WhyIMarch #WaterisLife #MMIW #MMIWG pic.twitter.com/3ojJ1YHoER
— Opal Boyer (@oboyer86) January 18, 2019
— Native Philanthropy (@NativeGiving) January 18, 2019
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:
We’re marching because gun suicides disproportionally affect Native Americans.
— March For Our Lives DC (@MFOLDC) January 18, 2019
In states that allow their Medicaid to cover abortion care, Indian Health Services still does not. The federal government & Hyde Amendment take those private personal decisions away from Indigenous women. #IPMDC19 #WhyIMarch
— NAF (@NatAbortionFed) January 18, 2019
We stand in solidarity with all those gathering in DC today for the #IndigenousPeoplesMarch. We must continue to fight against the injustices affecting indigenous people. #IPMDC19 pic.twitter.com/xPeeN8kaZ8
— Earthjustice (@Earthjustice) January 18, 2019