Rose Parade 2017, Dakota Access Pipeline
Politics and Advocacy

2017 Rose Parade: Up With the People, Down with the Pipeline


“It was important to take over the end of the Rose Parade to unify people to get the message out (water is sacred, keep the oil in the soil) and most importantly to get people to defund the (Dakota Access Pipeline),” said Lydia Ponce in the Pasadena Star News, a representative from the American Indian Movement of Southern California.

Rose Parade 2017, Dakota Access Pipeline
Rose Parade 2017 – Unity on Behalf of Sacred Waters and Mother Earth. Photo by Mike Chickey.

Up with the People, Down with the Pipeline

2017 opened with a bang in Pasadena, as Dakota Access Pipeline “Water Protectors” crashed the end of the 128th Tournament of Roses Parade, so called “America’s New Year Celebration.” Peaceful confrontation makes a fitting entrance for a year when “America” welcomes its least-popular President Elect.

The real story is an impressive unification between Native organizations and Southern California Nations, as well as North American Indigenous Activists working together with non-Native political, labor, and environmental groups to stop the Dakota Access from crossing near the Standing Rock Sioux Reservation. Calling it the “Black Snake,” the fracked shale oil pipeline proposed by Energy Transfer Partners/Sunoco, it would connect North Dakota’s Bakken oil fields to refineries in Illinois, and then piped to the Gulf and shipped out to the world.

Building a Tipi and Unity – George Funmaker at Rose Parade Rally – Video by Jack Eidt

Water Protectors and Black Snakes

The Protector’s message? Upholding Indigenous Treaty Rights and safeguarding Mother Earth and her sacred life-giving waters from the depredations of multinational oil companies. The Black Snakes (oil pipelines, all of them) poison water (think the 2011 Yellowstone River blowout, the 2010 Kalamazoo River tar-sands-muckification, the 2015 Santa Barbara Coast despoiling), causing community disruptions and ecocide, as well as violating Native and non-Native land rights and contaminating poorer neighborhoods lacking clout to route them elsewhere.

All this in service to the constant and maybe permanent disruption of global climate processes.

We have cleaner, safer alternatives to using Black Snakes that necessitate sacrifice zones and sacrifice peoples.

Words from Lydia Ponce, from American Indian Movement Southern California

Pipeline protests that included Indigenous, labor, faith, and youth communities have been happening in earnest since 2011, when White House police had over 1,000 Keystone XL tar sands pipeline nonviolent activists arrested at their gates. Yet, the Native drumbeat has only recently sounded a convergence of the environmental sustainability movement with the generations-long fight for Indigenous rights.

More and more people of all colors now recognize the connectivity of Mother Nature’s scientifically documented destruction with the ongoing injustices against Native people and their land- and water-based spirituality. The Standing Rock Sioux’s movement to stop Dakota Access from threatening their water source along the Cannonball River has led to the call by communities across North America that ‘Standing Rock is Everywhere!’

Pasadena Rose Parade 2017, Dakota Access Pipeline
Water is Sacred. And Pasadena, and the World, hears the refrain, whether they get it or not. Photo by Mike Chickey.

Hottest of the Hot

2016 looks to become the hottest year on record for the third year in a row. 16 of the 17 hottest years on record have taken place this century, only 17 years old. One cannot overestimate the horror that this spells for what some call “civilization.”

California faces six years of drought (though encouraged by recent rains), and our water wars with high cost water tunnels and desalination plans render expendable endangered fish in the Sacramento Bay Delta and coastal resources, sacrifices for keeping the machines running.

We must slow these machines to run at human-animal-plant speed.

Extreme storms, melting glaciers and permafrost, rising seas, floods, coral reef bleaching, heat waves, wildfires, tornadoes, and hurricanes have all become more common. Mass migrations, destroyed communities, and thousands of lost lives have followed.

Here’s the rub: government and corporations have spent $20 trillion on fossil fuel infrastructure  across the world and won’t be turning down the heat, so to speak. This will enable a doubling/tripling down on destruction of ecosystems, communities, and the continued haywiring of our climate stability.

We, the Southern California Water Protectors, in solidarity with those at Standing Rock, have had enough.

STORY: Standing Rock is Everywhere: Los Angeles Unites Around Dakota Access

Round Dance at the Rose Parade 2017 in Pasadena – Video by Jack Eidt

The Orange One and His Rogues

Yet, we have a climate denier/oil investor about to be installed as President, bringing with him a rogue’s gallery cabinet of fossil fuel mercenaries – TRex Tillerson (International State Exxon Expansionist), Oklahoma Hired Gun Pruitt (EPA Destructor), Texas Tea Pusher Ricky “Dancin’ Shoes” Perry (Energy Dept.-closing oops-master), and Navy SEAL Zinke (driller and killer of wildlife at the Interior).

If you voted for the Orange One, thinking you would drain the swamp and kick out all the elite corporatists, please, wake the hell up. Swamps are sacred water, generators of fish, fowl, bacteria and beautiful life! We need more swamps and less Wild West gringos born of Indigenous genocide with ecocide on their minds.

The Ogallala Aquifer and the Missouri River, both threatened by Keystone XL and Dakota Access respectively, combined keep almost 20 million people hydrated and alive. Let us not get confused: Water is most definitely Life!

Dakota Access Pipeline, 2017 Rose Parade
“You can’t drink oil! Keep it in the soil!” Photo by Mike Chickey.

It’s All Roses

We woke up at 4 am on the “official” New Year’s Day to bring to the Rose Parade a measure of perspective for the coming 2017. Organizers Bernie Sanders Brigade, California for Progress, and American Indian Movement (AIM) Southern California, along with other groups and dedicated activists, built a tipi float and prepared the authorities for our entrance into the parade. After a rally, 100-200 people marched with banners and signs into formation behind a Prayer Staff and Spirit Drum. We stepped into place behind the official parade, followed by a long plastic Black Snake emblazoned with “NoDAPL” and “Clean Energy Now” carried by about 40 people.

“Up, up, up with the people! Down, down, down with the pipeline!”

Up with the People! Video by Jack Eidt

In 1771, Father Junipero Serra initiated Spanish colonization of the Tongva People with Mission San Gabriel Archangel, the fourth in Alta California of an eventual 21. The Tongva called this their homeland. The Rose Bowl was built on the lands of the Xaxaamonga, a Tongva band who thrived where the Arroyo Seco (“Dry Stream” – not always) flowed life-giving water out of what would be called the San Gabriel Mountains.

The Native Californians have persisted despite disease, depopulation and dislocation, and now have united with the Standing Rock is Everywhere movement. The people united, will never be divided. Watch out Trumpsters. The Earth Mother’s “Water is Sacred” advocates are charting the way forward through the storms of capitalist greed and corporate hegemony.

Listen to the rain fall. Watch out for the prayer staff leading the charge. Listen for the spirit drum. We’re here to stay.

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