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In Hanover, Protesters Gather in Solidarity Against Dakota Access Pipeline

  • Gusti Terkildsen, of Wanbli, S.D., thanks those who gathered in solidarity with protesters of the Dakota Access Pipeline on the green in Hanover, N.H. for their support Tuesday, November 15, 2016. Terkildsen is Oglala Lakota and grew up on the Pine Ridge Reservation south of Standing Rock where she spent August and September protesting the pipeline. "It was just my tent and another teepee, and it grew to thousands," she said. (Valley News - James M. Patterson) Copyright Valley News. May not be reprinted or used online without permission. Send requests to permission@vnews.com.

  • Skip Cady, of Lyme, who has Mi'kmaq and Abenaki ancestry, joined a demonstration against the Dakota Access Pipeline on the green in Hanover, N.H. Tuesday, November 15, 2016. Cady made the medicine bag seen under his jacket which has connections to Abenaki, Mi'kmaq, and Egyptian symbolism. (Valley News - James M. Patterson) Copyright Valley News. May not be reprinted or used online without permission. Send requests to permission@vnews.com.

  • Donna Roberts Moody, of West Hartford, speaks to a gathering of about 75 people on the green in Hanover, N.H. who met in solidarity with protesters of the Dakota Access Pipeling on the Standing Rock Reservation in South Dakota Tuesday, November 15, 2016. Roberts Moody cited the United Nations Declaration on Indigenous Rights in her remarks noting that the construction of the pipeline would disturb sacred grounds and violate the protection of water and resources on native lands. (Valley News - James M. Patterson) Copyright Valley News. May not be reprinted or used online without permission. Send requests to permission@vnews.com.

Valley News Staff Writer
Published: 11/15/2016 11:59:04 PM
Modified: 11/16/2016 10:42:59 AM

Hanover — Polimana Joshevama, 19, was one of about 75 people standing in the light rain on the Dartmouth Green, listening to songs and speeches about the ongoing battle between the Standing Rock Sioux and the company building the $3.8 billion Dakota Access pipeline in North Dakota.

The event, as well as a smaller action taken outside Bank of America on Hanover’s Main Street earlier in the day, were part of a nationwide “show of solidarity” with Sioux protesters, and also provided an opportunity for left-leaning activists to talk about how Donald Trump’s presidency might affect their future political actions.

The conflict in North Dakota is close and personal for Joshevama, a Hopi from Arizona who plans to take off her winter term at Dartmouth to go help the people of Sacred Stone Camp in Cannon Ball, N.D. as an emergency medical responder.

“It’s really been hitting me hard with all the water issues my family have dealt with up on the Hopi reservation,” said Joshevama, who is financing her trip with a GoFundMe campaign. “I consider it my moral obligation to go and help people, especially when I have the means to do so as an indigenous person.”

Hartford resident Donna Moody, a tribal elder in the Abenaki Nation and Director of the Winter Center for Indigenous Traditions, was one of a handful of speakers.

“The very real risk of increased environmental degradation now exists when faced with a president elect and majority political party that deny the existence of global warming, that deny the existence of dangers of fracking, drilling and pipeline leaks,” she told the crowd. “That risk becomes more of a reality when those who make public policy support and invest in pursuing the mining, selling and transportation of fossil fuels.”

Just minutes before the protest on the Green, a handful of activists, many of them affiliated with White River Junction’s Center for Transformational Practice, beat on drums and sang songs including Turn the World Around as they used gourds, dried beans and grains to create a piece of art on the ground outside a local branch of the Bank of America.

Simon Dennis, a Hartford selectman who helps to run the center, said confrontation is not the answer, and struck a much different tone from the Dartmouth protest.

“We go beyond solidarity with the protest at Standing Rock and the Sioux nation,” Dennis said. “Here we’re in solidarity also with Bank of America, because Bank of America is made up of human beings who care deeply about our planet. … They’re in the business of protecting value, and this also is of value.”

The nationwide show of support comes during a dramatic week in North Dakota.

On Monday, the Army Corps of Engineers called for more study and input from the Standing Rock Sioux before it decides whether to allow the pipeline to cross under a Missouri River reservoir that skirts the tribe’s reservation. The 1,200-mile pipeline that’s to carry North Dakota oil through South Dakota and Iowa to a shipping point in Illinois is largely complete except for that stretch. The tribe says the pipeline threatens drinking water and cultural sites.

On Tuesday, the company behind the pipeline, Dallas-based Energy Transfer Partners, asked a federal court to speed up approval of its plan.

Joshevama said the stakes are high.

“Considering their horrible track record and all the oil spills you see all the time, if it breaks, it doesn’t just pollute the only source of clean water for the Tribe,” she said. “It pollutes everything downstream of North Dakota in the Missouri River. … It impacts everyone and that’s, I feel like a lot of people aren’t paying attention to that.”

Kelly Sapp, a spokesperson for Bank of America, sent an email in response to questions about the institution’s involvement with the pipeline.

“Bank of America is not a lender in the project-level financing for the Dakota Access Pipeline. We are not providing project finance and we are not involved in the project,” wrote Sapp. “As a company we have a long-standing history of supporting both the heritage of Native American communities and the environment.”

A letter from financial watchdog groups linking Bank of America to the project as one of eight institutions “providing further credit to the project sponsors” was cited in an article last week by the New York Times.

Questions about the impact of Trump’s election loom large over the sphere of political activism. Some groups, including the Southern Poverty Law Center, have reported an increase in hate crimes in the week since Trump was elected, though it is unclear whether the actual number of hate crimes has increased nationwide.

Joshevama said Trump’s election has made her and her family feel less safe.

She said she got a hysterical phone call Tuesday morning from her mother, who had been verbally attacked by a white woman who, thinking she was Mexican, used a racial slur against Latinos and told her that she would be deported. She said the woman poured a soda on her mother’s car.

At the Sacred Stone protester encampment, Joshevama said, “I have a few weeks until the presidential inauguration. If that happens, my family is like, full-on, ’you have to leave.’ Because they will massacre people there. Because they’ve done it before and they’ll do it again.”

That charged climate also raises the question of what tone will bring about the most change, with some advocating a conciliatory approach that invites collaboration with the Republican-led federal government, and others favoring full-throated opposition.

Moody said she’s been an activist since 1954, when, as a second grader, she punched a boy who was using racial slurs to upset a black schoolmate. From Moody’s perspective, Trump’s presidency is just the latest in a long string of signs that big oil corporations have co-opted the political establishment at the expense of the country’s people. Under a President Trump, her own personal impulse, to “walk up to the biggest guy and poke him,” will stay the same.

“It’s who I’ve always been,” she said.

 Moody said young liberals shouldn’t lose hope, even if they feel heartbroken after the recent election.

“Take that energy, and put it in some issues that can make a difference in people’s lives. This is one of them,” Moody said.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.Matt Hongoltz-Hetling can be reached at mhonghet@vnews.com or 603-727-3211.


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