Part of the series of chants that filled New York City streets today were calls to give Indigenous land back and to stop the Line 3 pipeline, which has garnered much opposition in recent weeks with the project nearing completion.
Non-Indigenous youth climate activists say they are amplifying Indigenous voices that have been calling on the White House to make a last-ditch effort to halt the pipeline from crossing tribal lands and to avoid the potential risks of spills.
Many of the protests against the pipeline have been centered in Minnesota, where it passes bodies of water including the mouth of the Mississippi River. If the pipeline becomes fully operational, Line 3 will carry about 760,000 barrels of Canadian oil each day from North Dakota to Wisconsin.
Tokata Iron Eyes, 18, who marched at the strike in New York, said she’s representing young Indigenous peoples and ancestors who couldn’t show up and fight for the planet today. Iron Eyes said she is calling on US leaders to put an end to fossil fuel subsidies, halt the Line 3 pipeline, and redact the permits for the Dakota Access pipeline in South Dakota.
“Because our communities have refused to exploit our resources ourselves, we are now in a position where we are in the global front lines who are bearing the brunt of the consequences of human-caused climate crisis,” Iron Eyes, a member of the Standing Rock Sioux tribe, told CNN.
Some context: Despite sweeping climate pledges, including a recent one on limiting methane — a major component of natural gas — the Biden administration has defended a key decision that was made in the last days of the Trump administration to issue those permits.
But it could still withdraw the federal permits that are allowing the pipeline to move forward, and that’s what youth climate activists were calling for in their speeches today.
“People are starting to realize the severity of the situation, climate activists like myself who have been doing this since we were 8 years old are now becoming adults and dealing with the same thing we are talking about since we were children — its a travesty,” Iron Eyes said.
Iron Eyes said the tides are changing with the youth climate movement in that it is becoming more diverse and spotlighting more Indigenous issues.
“Being there and representing so much more than just one person and understanding that presence in itself opens so many doors,” she said. “The visibility was important for me.”