POCATELLO — When the Seven Fires Council of the Great Sioux Nation last came together in 1876, they defeated the 7th Cavalry Regiment of the United States Army in the Battle of the Little Bighorn.
Now, in what officials call the largest Native American mobilization in almost 150 years, the Seven Fires Council is reunited in the protest of the Dakota Access oil pipeline.
To support this protest, Idle No More, a grassroots movement for indigenous sovereignty, is calling on Native Americans and their allies to support U.S. tribes during a march and protest at the Idaho Capitol Friday.
Louis Archuleta, a Democratic candidate for Idaho House District 28 and a member of the Shoshone-Bannock Tribes, is attending the rally, and his campaign rented a 15-passenger van to take along those interested.
“To me, the issue is tribal sovereignty,” Archuleta said. “This is something that is affecting every Indian tribe in the country. When you get companies and governments that violate those sovereign rights, then people protest.”
Archuleta is inviting others to caravan in their own vehicles to Boise, and expects members of the Shoshone-Paiute Tribes to head to the protest in Boise.
“Hopefully the tribes here will send a busload of their own,” Archuleta said.
A former space shuttle engineer, Archuleta said he’s most concerned about the potential impact this pipeline may have on the environment. For the Indian peoples, protecting the environment and resources such as water is paramount to their way of life.
“Water is the spring of life and the Indian peoples feel that very strongly,” Archuleta said. “They live with the environment, and most of them feel they are guardians of the land.”
In July, Archuleta and his campaign manager visited all five Idaho tribes. Archuleta said he wants to educate the Legislature and citizens about tribal issues, and the tour was a good first step.
Archuleta expects the protests in North Dakota to settle down and for the Boise protest to be non-violent.
“Peaceful protests do work,” he said. “The conscience of America is changing, and more and more people are starting to understand that certain things just aren’t right. Half of everybody I’ve spoken to is sympathetic with the Indian side on this because it’s the little people against a giant mega-cooperation. And all of us are somewhat in that boat.”
Protest events Friday, Sept. 9
The rally by “Idaho Tribes and Allies” is 9 a.m. to noon Friday at the Idaho Capitol. Attendees are supporting the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe of North Dakota, which is opposed to the Dakota Access pipeline. The event is part of the #NoDAPL Global Weeks of Solidarity Action through Sept. 17.
At 7:30 a.m. Friday, a sunrise prayer will be observed at Quarry View Park, 2150 Old Penitentiary Road, in East Boise. A Running for Wellness of Duck Valley will follow, in which the group will run an eagle staff down Warm Springs Avenue to the Capitol.