Indigenous organizations march in San Francisco climate protest

Isabella Sabri/Staff

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In light of the Global Climate Action Summit that will take place in San Francisco this week, thousands of protesters participated in the “Rise for Climate, Jobs and Justice” march in San Francisco on Saturday.

Indigenous groups featured in the protest, with members of several indigenous organizations leading the march. At the summit, mayors and businesspeople of cities across the world will gather to discuss issues such as clean water and drilling for oil.

According to Fallon Burner, a member of UC Berkeley’s Indigenous and Native Coalition, or INC, who was present at the protest, indigenous peoples especially bear the brunt of environmental damage.

There was a large presence of indigenous groups at the protest, including international organizations such as Alianza Mesoamericana de Pueblos y Bosques.

An indigenous ceremony was held at 7 a.m., and various organizations were invited to participate. At 10 a.m., drums could be heard in the crowd as the organizations set up their banners. From Embarcadero Plaza to the Ferry Building, protesters posed for pictures as they waited for the march to begin.

Burner, who has been a part of INC since her freshman year, said she knows that indigenous groups feel especially “tied to the planet and what happens to it.”

“It’s been years and years of feeling like people are not listening, and finally it feels like people are getting on board with what indigenous people have been saying all along. We never really stopped saying it,” Burner said.

Bria Tennyson, a campus senior in INC, said that as a Native Hawaiian, she has witnessed the devastating effects of rising water levels.

“Our peoples are the ones who are basically suffering from it,” Tennyson said. “I think this march shows that we care, and we’re here, and we’re not going to go away, and this is something that everyone needs to get behind.”

Cándido Mezúa, a member of Alianza Mesoamericana de Pueblos y Bosques, said the drilling process “exploits” indigenous land all over the world.

The protest was organized in part by Loa Niumeitolu, a manager for the Pacific Islander Climate March Contingent. Andrea Salazar, a student at Chabot College who helped Niumeitolu during the march, said she hopes the protest will make enough of an impact that people will continue to fight for the movement beyond simply showing up to the protest.

Salazar added that she hopes people will realize how many communities are directly impacted by climate change, even if in many parts of the United States, the impact of climate change may not be as obvious yet.

“We’re marching to acknowledge our ancestors. We are doing this for them and for future generations,” Salazar said. “I hope that people take it with them and take it seriously.”

Isabella Sabri is the lead student life reporter. Contact her at [email protected] and follow her on Twitter at @isabella_sabri.