#NODAPL pipeline protests surge in Nashville
Supporters in Nashville joined the week of solidarity with Standing Rock water protectors. | AP

NASHVILLE – As part of the week of national mobilization in solidarity with the Standing Rock Sioux opposition to the Dakota Access Pipeline (DAPL), demonstrators in Tennessee’s largest city turned out in force. Demonstrations involving hundreds roared throughout the main thoroughfares of the city on November 15. The honking of horns by passing motorists buoyed the anti-pipeline activists. One driver who later joined the demonstrators remarked that the protests “seemed to be everywhere.”

Three rallies were held in quick succession throughout the day, giving the image of simultaneous protest across the city. There were events in the afternoon at the Estes Kefauver Federal Building, the Wells Fargo Bank, and at Centennial Park, a well-known public gathering area.

At the federal building on the always busy 8th Avenue, over 200 gathered on the sidewalk waving signs of pipeline opposition and solidarity with the Standing Rock water protectors. The demonstration here was directed at the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, which is the agency in charge of the federal lands near Lake Oahe.

A candlelight vigil was held by the American Indian Coalition on the same site a week ago. The trio of November 15 events are the latest in a series of support activities for Standing Rock that have taken place in Nashville over the past three months, including fundraisers, demonstrations, and rallies.

Over 100 protesters hit the pavement at the Wells Fargo Bank on West End Avenue, another main Nashville thoroughfare. Wells Fargo has $476 million invested in DAPL. The protesters were encouraging depositors to close their accounts and start banking elsewhere.

Later, these same demonstrators converged on the Bank of America where those who had bank cards of that institution took them out and cut them up. Afterward, they went into the bank building, officially closed their accounts, and walked out chanting with cash in hand.

The author was interviewed by the Nashville media after returning from Standing Rock. | Screenshot from Nashville NewsChannel 5
The author was interviewed by the Nashville media after returning from Standing Rock. | Screenshot from Nashville NewsChannel 5

The third protest convened in Centennial Park and was organized by Cheyenne holy man Lou White Eagle. This gathering of over 200 stressed the urgent need, as did the other two rallies, for Obama to take immediate action to stop the pipeline and protect the Native People in North Dakota. All of the protests were diverse, composed of Native American, Hispanic, Black, white, and Asian participants.

Two days later on November 17, the Students for Environmental Action group at Middle Tennessee State University held a public program on campus on the DAPL issue at which this writer was the featured speaker (I was also the invited speaker at the protests held on November 15).

The media reported that Obama was on a European tour for the week of national solidarity with Standing Rock. This surely was no coincidence.


Albert Bender
Albert Bender

Albert Bender is a Cherokee activist, historian, political columnist, and freelance reporter for Native and Non-Native publications. He is currently writing a legal treatise on Native American sovereignty and working on a book on the war crimes committed by the U.S. against the Maya people in the Guatemalan civil war He is a consulting attorney on Indigenous sovereignty, land restoration, and Indian Child Welfare Act (ICWA) issues and a former staff attorney with Legal Services of Eastern Oklahoma (LSEO) in Muskogee, Okla.