Videos on social media show heavily armed police arresting “water protectors” today; San Diego rally planned Oct. 30
Update Oct. 7, 2016: Hear our interview on KNSJ Radio with Bobby Wallace by clicking the audio link
By Miriam Raftery
September 28,2016 (San Diego)—“We must, we will, bring more supplies. Our number one goal is to help the people,” Barona tribal member Bobby Wallace told East County Magazine.
Winter will soon bring bitter cold to the Standing Rock Sioux encampment in Cannnonball,North Dakota, where “hundreds of tribes” have sent thousands of people camp out and take a stand against the Dakota access oil pipeline. Wallace has been organizing relief supplies gathered by local tribes to support the effort.
Speaking last week at an Activist San Diego meeting in San Diego, Wallace told of the reactions when he arrived with the first caravan of supplies for the three camps.”Men, people, had tears in their eyes. People hugged us…just knowing people far away cared.”
Members of nine local Native American bands participated.”We received support from nearly every Kumeyaay tribe. Huge,” Wallace told ECM. That includes Barona, Viejas, and tribes as far north as Los Coyotes in the mountains and as far east as the Quechan in the desert.
The next caravan departs October 8th. Supplies urgently needed include blankets, wood stoves and warm clothing. Without that, Wallace says those emcamped “are gonna freeze—they are only protected by tipis.” Also needed are school supplies for children at the camps.
Donated items can be brought to 2004 Akuunyaay Way,Lakeside 92040. The Bernie Sanders brigade is also gathering supplies locally for the relief effort.
In addition, money is needed to pay for legal defense. The Agua Caliente band of Cahuilla Indians has donated $250,000 to the Standing Rock Sioux legal defense fund, the Desert Sun reported today. Those seeking to donate may contact Bobby Wallace at 61-318-2643.
“Who puts a pipeline right on the Missouri River?” asks Wallace, who stood at the site, reflecting, “I could feel great sadness.” He and others standing up for the Standing Rock Sioux believes water belongs to the people. “We know that water is life.”
Those gathered in South Dakota call themselves “water protectors,” not protesters.
Today, Wallace watched with sadness as video of the arrests at the encampments spread across social media. “Nobody has weapons,” he said of the tribal members being arrested by heavily armed officers and sprayed by pepper spray or another chemical from a plane. “My hopes would be to take into consideration these are people trying to have a ceremony that care about their water. The water is for everybody,”Wallace states.
A rally will be held October 30th from11 a.m. to 4 p.m. at Mission Beach, on the grass across from the roller coaster. An earlier rally in Agua Caliente drew hundreds of people.
Wallace believes it’s important to take a stand, noting that water “poisoning” is happening in many places due to fracking, oil lines, mining and pollution. He is also outraged at desecration of tribal burial grounds locally by the Navy at its Naval Seal training ground. “They are crushing up my ancestors,”he says. “This is the truth. If we don’ keep up,they’re going to keep poisoning us.”
Olympia Beltran from Sonora,Mexico, also spoke at the ASD meeting, telling how the Mexican government rerouted a river and took water away from the Yaqui people. She said a decfision soon will determine if oil companies will be allowed to inject chemicals into an aquifer in San Louis Obispo, California. (Comments can be made through www.conservation.ca.gov through October 12.)
Another issue is local: The Regional Water Quality Control Board will meet here soon over issues involving NAASCO and another polluter failing to clean up waters of San Diego Bay as promised—a site that in the past served as calving grounds for grey whales, Beltran said. She wants to use Standing Rock to draw attention to water issues in California.
Wallace wants to create a hub locally to share ideas and grow a movement to fight against the Dakota pipeline and other projects that destroy clean water and threaten Native American values of protecting the earth.
“We all need to collaborate. This is everybody working together,” he says, urging the public to friend him on Facebook . “Take it to heart and share” on social media, he urges.
An ASD representative indicated concerned people can also take money out of big banks that back the company responsible for the Dakota Access Pipeline, such as Wells Fargo and Chase.
Wallace is no stranger to involvement in big events. He’s worked with the cofounder of the Longest Walk,a cross-country trek organized by Native Americans. (The next walk leaves in February from Alcatraz, arriving in Washington D.C.in July and aims to draw attention to domestic violence. You can support the walkers at www.gofundme.com/n9qbmvn2 .)
He believes the water defenders are having an impact. Earlier this month, President Barack Obama ordered a temporary halt to construction of the pipeline section most objectionable to the Standing Sioux , and called for other actions to better provide for Native American voices to be heard in decisions involving energy projects.
The Standing Rock gathering has swelled dramatically since Wallace’s first visit, growing from about 1,500 to 10,000 or more by some accounts—the largest such gathering since Wounded Knee.
For Wallace, the need for action is critical—with no time to rest.”I’m tired, for a long time,” he admits, then adds, “but I can sleep when I die. Maybe we’re going to start something right here,and grow into something big.”