“Water is life. You can’t drink oil.”
This was the overriding message which amplified through the busy streets of San Francisco during the early hours of Tuesday morning.
Hundreds of protesters gathered with placards in the cities business district, in opposition to the Dakota Access pipeline in North America, which threatens the livelihood of First Nations Peoples and culture.
The masses marched form the Civic Centre Plaza to the US Army Corps of Engineers, demanding action on behalf of the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe facing injustice and dispossession of their lands.
“I’m here with the letter to the Army Corps of Engineers that many individuals have signed because we cannot live without water. We cannot drink oil,” said organiser Pennie Opal Plant.
“That water goes to millions and millions of people and agriculture. What is wrong with the system that allows the poisoning of the water at Lake Oahe? We are crazy. We have lost our minds. We do not have one moment to waste.”
Pennie Opal Plant is a well-known activist of Yaqui, Mexican, English, Choctaw, Cherokee and European ancestry.
She is one of thousands who stood in solidarity on Tuesday as part of a National Day of Action, scheduled just one day after a suspension was declared on pipeline construction beneath the Missouri River at Lake Oahe.
“If we don’t take a stand right now - there will not be any fresh water, clean air or soil to grow healthy foods. This is our responsibility.”
Ms Plant said a completion of the 3.7-billion-dollar project would pollute nearby water supplies and destroy sacred tribal sites.
“We need to do everything we can to ensure the future of the coming generations - and if we all don’t take a stand right now - our children, grandchildren and great grandchildren will not be able to have fresh water, clean air or soil to grow healthy foods. This is our responsibility.”
She is calling on the Obama administration to take urgent action and ‘get on the right side of history.’
“There is no binding language in anything that Obama and the Army Corps have already said. They are not protecting the water defenders or the land defenders that are there, and they are on the wrong side of history,” said Ms Plant.
Protesters and members of the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe believe that further construction of the pipeline will be approved by their incoming president, Donald Trump.
It’s been one week since the US election made headlines around the world, but Trump is yet to make any comment on the issues at Standing Rock.
Citizen of the Couchiching tribe Tara Hosuka, says it’s now time to speak out and rally for change.
“On [Tuesday], call on the administration and hold them accountable. Tell them to reject the army corps permits to drill under the Missouri River and stop this pipeline in its tracks.”
In addition, she is seeking a full environmental impact statement and wants observers sent from the US Department of Justice to witness the harm faced by water protectors at Standing Rock.
These three demands were presented in writing, along with details on how supporters can take action from afar in San Francisco.
Event organisers from the idlenomoresfbay Facebook page confirmed that at least 150 protesters risked arrest during Tuesdays demonstration, by sitting in solidarity and barricading all entrances to the Army Corps building.
However, no arrests were made and the demonstration ended peacefully in traditional song and dance.
To show your support and donate to the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe, click here