The City of Long Beach Stands with the Standing Rock Sioux

9 Dec

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About 40 people, in the plaza outside City Hall, before the meeting of Long Beach City Council on Tuesday, Dec. 6, rallied with speakers in solidarity with the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe and against the construction of the Dakota Access Pipeline, in anticipation of the city council agenda item on the same subject.

The rally began with Tongva elder, Gloria Arellanes, leading a prayer and blessing, followed with speakers.

Noe Ramirez, Long Beach resident, emceed.  The first speaker Ramirez introduced was Elliot Gonzales. Gonzales is a leader of Stop Fracking Long Beach and according to the city’s website, a member of the city’s sustainable commission.  He said, “It is time as an environmental community we begin to recognize indigenous rights as part of why it is necessary for us to be able to sustain life on this planet…. We will perish, if we do not speak up to the abuses that are happening to our native brothers and sisters, I guarantee that it will happen to us…. We must become active in resisting in every aspect of our lives, like in government, in society, as in community.” He said environmentalists should view themselves as allies to the indigenous.

Ramirez then introduced George Funmaker, as a resident of Long Beach.  Funmaker belongs to the Dakota Ho-Chunk tribe.  He said, “As native people we’re healing from something called historical trauma.  Historical trauma is when the United States Government put us in boarding schools and we were not allowed to speak our language, we were not allowed to do our ceremonies and it wasn’t until 1978 (with the) American Indian Religious Freedom Act, where we were able openly  practice our ceremonies.”  He said one issue needing to be address is white privilege and white supremacy.  He said originally the pipeline was to go through Bismarck, North Dakota, but the mostly Caucasian city would not allow it, the company listened to them and the company decided to run it through native land.

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Then, Funmaker with some others shared a no DAPL (Dakota Access Pipeline) song with the audience.  He ended by pointing out that it was the women who provided the leadership for their movement.

The council chambers was about half-full, when the agenda item came.  Before public comment, First District Councilwomen Lena Gonzalez argued for the resolution and pointed out that “the protest and fight is not just about oil.  It is about respect for our indigenous communities and respect for the rights of treaties that were signed with this tribe more than 150 years ago.”

Second District Councilwoman Jeanine Pearce also argued for the resolution.  She said the protesters against the pipeline “were met with disproportionate use of force, in…freezing temperatures, tear gas, rubber bullets, even grenades, yet they still remained strong.”

During the public comments, Funmaker said that “Long Beach has to look at their own oil addiction…. It’s not (just) about this pipeline, it’s about transitioning to renewable energy and keeping fossil fuels in the ground.”

Another speaker during the public comment, in favor was Alex Montances, who identified himself as living in the Sixth District, as being from the Filipino Migrant Center and the National Alliances for Filipino Concerns.  Montez said that during the Thanksgiving weekend he was part of a six-person delegation who drove from Long Beach “to stand with the Standing Rock Sioux.”  Montances ended by quoting a native-American artist he met, who said, “It was the first time in history that almost all of the native-American tribes are united together to protect what is sacred to them: water, land and Mother Earth.”

After public comment but before the city council vote, Fourth District Councilman Daryl Supernaw thanked all the supporters and speakers and said he is working with others to bring forward a motion to create a Native Heritage Commission for the city.  Mayor Robert Garcia said he was a “strong supporter” of the resolution.

No city councilmember or anyone during the public comments spoke against the resolution.  The resolution passed unanimously.

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2 Responses to “The City of Long Beach Stands with the Standing Rock Sioux”

  1. redondotechnology Friday, December 9, 2016 at 12:15 pm #

    I think education of tribal and all people is vital during these times of complex corporate landscapes with a main holder as President-Elect. It would serve all best to study regionally specific land and tax laws so that we the people have all legal tools to protect ourselves. Also, educating protestors on how to best deal with police, etc. is vital. One failure of us active folks is lack of communication, knowledge, and planning.

  2. Anna Christensen Friday, December 9, 2016 at 6:30 pm #

    Thanks for the great article, maybe you can persuade the Grunion Gazette to publish it – even as a letter to the editor. They failed to report on Hispanic Heritage Month and Native American Heritage Month celebrations at the City Council, and on this resolution as well. Thank goodness for the LB Post, Random Lengths, and Voicewaves.

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