New Mexico Tribes descend on state legislature to oppose Dakota Access Pipeline

Each year, American Indian Day brings culture and concerns from Native Americans across New Mexico to the State Legislature, but Friday they also showed up to show unified support for the efforts of the Standing Rock Sioux tribe in South Dakota to stop a pipeline that they say threatens their water and damages sacred sites. “We came here today because it’s American Indian Day and to support Standing Rock,” said Rita Blatche who drove more than three hours with her husband from Mescalero to Santa Fe. Standing Rock was the overall theme of the day, with Standing Rock Councilman Robert Taken Alive speaking as the honored guest. All 23 Native American tribes within the state unified their stance toward the Dakota Access Pipeline and signed a letter opposing the pipeline. San Ildefonso Pueblo Lt. Gov. Chris Moquino said the visit from Taken Alive “shows there is strength in numbers.” San Ildefonso is located east of Pojoaque.

“We are all in the same fight as a people”

As tribal members dig in their heels to prevent construction of an oil pipeline they say threatens their water supply and damages sites sacred to them, a growing police action in North Dakota over the weekend has landed many of them in jail. Since the summer, thousands of Native Americans, including New Mexicans, have converged on North Dakota, heeding the call of the Standing Rock Sioux to protest against the pipeline construction. Liz McKenzie of the Diné Nation (Navajo Nation), for one, felt a sense of unity with the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe when she visited North Dakota in September, she said. The 2015 Gold King Mine Spill that contaminated the San Juan and Animas Rivers and affected agricultural communities in New Mexico and on the Navajo Nation made water contamination concerns raised by the Standing Rock Sioux more than a political call to action. ”It’s not even like we are standing in ‘solidarity’,” McKenzie said.