While the #NoDAPL protests at Standing Rock have galvanized the US’s Native peoples in ways we haven’t seen since the height of the American Indian Movement in the early 70s, the battle of indigenous peoples to protect our earth from destruction has been brewing for some time now. In Latin America, activists from Mexico, Central America, and all the way down to the Ecuadorian Amazon have put their lives on the line in defense of their lands and dignity over the past years. And far too often, their lives have been taken for their work.
Few indigenous groups know the pain of losing friends, loves ones, and entire communities in defense of tribal lands as acutely as the Mayan ethnic groups of Guatemala. Over the course of the country’s 36 year civil war, over 150,000 indigenous people were slaughtered in a systematic genocide, and their struggle for justice continues to this day. So when a group of Mayan Ancestral Authorities from western Guatemala made the trip to Standing Rock to show their solidarity with the protesters, the symbolic resonance of the meeting was deeply powerful.
In a short video from Telesur, we see representatives of the Mam and Ixil peoples sitting down with the members of the Standing Rock Tribal Council to share the pain of their own experiences, and thank the warriors at Standing Rock for “lighting a path for our own people.” It’s one more voice of solidarity in the struggle against the Dakota Access Pipeline, but more importantly, it’s an important step toward internationalizing the historic indigenous movement coalescing around these protests.