By JASON BIRKELBACH • Special to www.AllOTSEGO.com
ONEONTA – Susan Donegan was told to wait in the camp and pray the day the buffalo came over the hill. She had been staying at the Oceti Sakowin camp on the Sitting Rock reservation in North Dakota, where many are protesting the Dakota Access Pipeline.
“It felt like you were in a war-zone, and the war was coming right at you,” she said, “and there wasn’t anything you can do about it other than stand your ground.”
She and others spoke out against the pipeline Thursday evening in Muller Plaza where people of Oneonta gathered to stand in solidarity with the protesters at Standing Rock.
“What we need to have happen is for enough people to be aware and to say ‘no more,’” Donegan said. “Because this is not the only river being affected; it’s not the only oil company.”
The evening featured traditional native music, including sacred Cherokee songs performed by women of the Woodland clan of Cherokee. During the performances, demonstrators lined main streets hoisting signs, garnering honks of affirmation from the passing cars.
Web links for donations sites and a donation box were provided for participants to contribute supplies and money for the Oceti Sakowin camp, which at one point had received only $40 for the nearly 1200 people occupying the camp.
In addition to Thursday’s event, Michelle Palmateir Demeo, the rally’s chief organizer, started a letter-writing campaign, in which hundreds of copies letters were printed expressing opposition to the pipeline. Participants signed the letters, which Demeo and her constituents will send to the Army Core of Engineers, President Obama, and Michelle Obama.
Demeo had the idea for the rally last Monday.
“I was sick of sharing things about it and not being able to do anything,” Demeo. “So I put up a post: has anything been done yet? If not, I’m doing it this week.”
Donegan, a Norwich resident, was joined by Clifford Eaglefeather, an elder of the Northern Cheyanne tribe, musician Ira Mcintosh, and Lee Fisher the president of the NAACP’s Oneonta branch.
Demeo plans to continue supporting, from Oneonta, the protestors. She is planning more events and hopes to have permeant banner hung in Muller plaza.
“I believe it does good to let your voice be heard,” Demeo said.