WASHINGTON, D.C.-About 200 people from the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe were among thousands of Native Americans and allies who marched Friday morning in Washington, D.C., to show solidarity and call on President Donald Trump for dialogue with Native leaders.
The Native Nations Rise march was partly led by Standing Rock in a continuation of its environmental stand against the Dakota Access Pipeline near the reservation and to call attention to tribal and treaty rights.
Standing Rock Sioux Chairman David Archambault II addressed the rally and said the level of public awareness and strength in diverse numbers is a first for people in Indian country, who struggle against a conquistador spirit so embedded it's still used to disavow the well-being of entire populations.
"We are in dark and unknown territory. Very real threats to our way of life and our freedom are being issued daily, and we are facing a realistic dismantling of our country as we know it," Archambault said. "I hope you understand that this is the way my fellow Native Americans have felt for centuries. Now we are all in the same boat. We have reached a critical moment in time where citizens are realizing we must stand for the core of humanity."
John Floberg, Episcopalian minister for Standing Rock, speaking from the front of the White House Friday afternoon, said the show of support from tribes all over the country and their non-native allies validates the reservation's position.
"This is coalescing a movement that started on Standing Rock. Now we're standing at the front door of Trump's White House and saying, `Can you hear us now?'" Floberg said. "There's support from many aspects and a very strong sense of unity."
Friday's march was the pinnacle event of a four-day Native Nations Rise presence in Washington and ends with a closing ceremony at 10 a.m. Saturday.
Archambault also called on Roman Catholic Pope Francis to revoke ancient church documents that led to the "Doctrine of Discovery," used to claim domination on discovered lands and still referenced in the U.S. Supreme Court in cases involving Native Americans.
"In order for us to take the steps necessary to assure our own future, we have to understand historically what has happened to us and what is currently happening to us," Archambault said. "We can make the change."
The march comes just after pipeline protest camps on and near Standing Rock were evacuated and the land cleared off. A few camp structures remain on private land on the reservation, while people who intend to remain actively opposed to Dakota Access and the KeystoneXL pipelines have been invited to a camp at Eagle Butte, S.D., on the Cheyenne River Sioux Reservation.
The Veterans Stand affiliation said in a statement Thursday it will set up an office at Eagle Butte for veterans who plan to rotate through the camp to support the protesters.