Five members of the Quinault Indian Nation Tribal Council, including President Fawn Sharp, are traveling to the Standing Rock Encampment in North Dakota this weekend to be part of a pipeline protest that is drawing international interest.
They leave Sunday. A rally has been scheduled for 8 a.m. this Sunday at the Hoquiam Airport. The contingent’s plane is scheduled to leave at 9 a.m. The protest at Standing Rock has gone on for months. The Quinault group will be there on Dec. 5, the day the federal government has said it will close the encampment.
“This two-day trip was purposely scheduled for these dates for good reasons,” said Quinault Nation President Fawn Sharp. “We scheduled it in part because our offices will be closed on December 5, our day to honor the memory of our late, great Quinault leader Joe DeLaCruz. We feel that makes it particularly meaningful for our council to go there now and show our support for the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe and all the thousands of water protectors who have made it clear that they will not be moved,” she said. “As it turns out, it is also the day the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers set for the water protectors at the camp to be evicted.”
DeLaCruz was President of Quinault Nation from 1967 to 1993.
“He also served as President of the Affiliated Tribes of Northwest Indians and of the National Congress of American Indians. He was known nationwide, and beyond, as a formidable leader in most of the late 20th Century struggles of Native American people and as a tireless advocate for tribal sovereignty. The people of Standing Rock knew Joe DeLaCruz, and they respect his memory. We are going to this historic place to exercise our sovereignty by taking direct and decisive action in support of Standing Rock and to celebrate all that President DeLaCruz stood for,” she said.
On the flight will be Quinault Nation President Fawn Sharp, Vice President Tyson Johnston, Council Secretary Latosha Underwood, Councilwoman Clarinda “Pies” Underwood, Councilman Thomas Obi, Tribal drummer and singer Micah Masten and Quinault Public Relations Coordinator Steve Robinson.
This is the Quinault Nation’s third wave of on-the-ground support. The tribe sent its “Grandfather Canoe” with a crew to take part in a 30-mile canoe journey on the Missouri River in early October. In November, the Quinault council took unanimous action to establish and staff a winter camp there. “We have consistently supported the Standing Rock effort and we will continue to do so,” said President Sharp. “We realize this country will continue to need oil for years to come. But priority must be placed on the protection of natural resources, treaty rights, cultural resources and the pursuit of clean energy. Water is sacred, water is life,” she said.
“We have tremendous respect for the water protectors. We relate with them because we’ve been fighting to keep Bakken oil from spoiling our area for years, and we know many people in the Grays Harbor area agree with us. So we invite them to come on out to the airport and see us off,” she said.
She said the Quinault Nation also relates with Standing Rock’s efforts to protect its sacred traditional lands, archaeological sites and burial grounds. “We fight the same battles. We are brothers and sisters, and we go to embrace them and show them our support,” she said.
The Quinault delegation will offer a sunrise prayer and song at daybreak on the morning of Joe DeLaCruz Day at which time they will present gifts of honor, gratitude, and support to the Standing Rock people.
“I find it interesting that the Corps of Engineers set December 5 as the eviction date for the water protectors because it also happens to be the birth date of George Armstrong Custer,” she said. “No one has the right to evict tribes from their sacred lands. Custer didn’t have the right in 1876, and the Army Corps doesn’t have the right today,” she said.