Native Hawaiians, Asian Americans Show Support for North Dakota Pipeline Protest

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by FRANCES KAI-HWA WANG  SEP 26 2016, 11:02 AM ET  NBC News

Some Native Hawaiians, Pacific Islanders, and Asian Americans are showing support for the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe in its fight against the construction of the four-state, $3.7 billion Dakota Access Pipeline (DAPL), which the tribe says would damage sacred cultural sites and drinking water. Several Native Hawaiians — who were active in the protests against the Thirty Meter Telescope (TMT) on Mauna Kea in Hawaii — have gone to North Dakota to show solidarity with the Native American protectors there, they said.

Pua Case, a plaintiff in the TMT contested case hearing, said she went to North Dakota because several of the Native Americans protectors there had also supported Native Hawaiian efforts to protect Mauna Kea from the proposed telescope.

"I went to Standing Rock because it is the time for all of us who are committed to protecting the water, the earth and our life ways and to align in our efforts, to strengthen one another," Case told NBC News. "We are not alone, and in these times of serious impact, desecration, construction and destruction we have no choice but to unify not just for ourselves, our people and all people but for the next seven generations..before it is too late, we stand."

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"Our hearts go out to all of the protectors of Standing Rock and to protectors everywhere who are risking their health, safety and even their lives to stand for Mother Earth (Papahanaumoku)," wrote Kealoha Pisciotta in a statement on behalf of the Mauna Kea Hui, Flores-Case 'Ohana, KAHEA: The Hawaiian Environmental Alliance, and Mauna Kea Anaina Hou. "We are humbled by our Native American brothers and sisters who have stood for hundreds of years and who have survived genocide and continue to stand for what is pono (righteous). Our hearts are breaking seeing what has been done and for what is happening now; and yet our hearts are lifted also as we see your bravery and courage."

"The Office of Hawaiian Affairs stands in solidarity with the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe and their supporters who are fighting to protect the tribe's ancestral lands and resources," Kamanaʻopono Crabbe, ka pouhana (CEO) of Office of Hawaiian Affairs (OHA), said in a statement. "The continuous struggle for self-determination over ancestral lands is a common theme that connects all native peoples across the globe, and our society has an obligation to afford indigenous peoples this basic right."

In response to a statement by the AFL-CIO supporting the workers building the Dakota Access Pipeline, several AFL-CIO constituency groups representing women, LGBT people, and communities of color, offered support for the Native Americans.

RELATED: New Hearings Begin on Embattled Proposed Mauna Kea Telescope

"From the Chinese Exclusion Act to Japanese American internment to the Southeast Asian deportation crisis, the Asian American and Pacific Islander (AAPI) community is no stranger to systemic oppression by the U.S. government and corporations," Gregory Cendana, executive director of Asian Pacific American Labor Alliance (APALA). "As AAPIs, we need to stand in solidarity with the Standing Rock Sioux, indigenous peoples and our allies because saying 'no' to the Dakota Access Pipeline is an issue of environmental, racial and economic justice. We're joining in this fight to stop the DAPL because we can definitely help amplify the voices of Native Americans, one of the most marginalized and disenfranchised groups in our nation's history."

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Muslim Americans are also showing solidarity with a crowdfunding campaign on LaunchGood, with the support of the Muslim Anti-Racism Collaborative and M Power Change, to raise funds to send a Native Muslim delegation with supplies and support to the Sacred Stone Camp.