Native voice joins power plant fight

| 04 Jan 2017 | 12:13

On a bracing December Saturday, Clara Soaring Hawk joined her voice to those of the picketers who show up weekend after weekend to oppose the embattled CPV power plant in Wawayanda, NY. Soaring Hawk, whose title is Deer Clan Chief Ramapough Lenape Nation, drummed softly while the Minisink town historian described the sacred history of the land on which the plant stands. Then the grandmother, in fringed leather jacket and shades, stood and addressed the circle.

“First I give honor to the Creator,” she said, and the crowd of about 60 simultaneously took a few steps in, to hear better – and to huddle against the cold. “I give honor to everyone that’s come here.”

“For everyone of all races, creeds and colors, we come and stand in unity. We’ve become warriors, all of us,” she said. She asked for forgiveness for those responsible for building the plant, “but also that they open their eyes.”

The $900 million fracked-gas plant across Route 6 is going up fast, despite its centrality in an ongoing corruption probe. Its opponents – who claim that the plant is not only environmentally disastrous, but unnecessary to meet regional power needs – have pinned their hopes on the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation. The DEC has delayed a decision on whether to grant a permit for a 7.8-mile pipeline extension. Recently the Millennium Pipeline sued the DEC for dragging its feet. Without the pipeline extension, the power plant cannot go online.

“We call it the black snake,” said Soaring Hawk, describing the pipeline. “This snake is around the world.” Standing Rock, the historic Native American gathering in North Dakota, is highlighting “the things that are happening everywhere. Everyone is standing in peace,” she said. “There is power in standing in unity. There is power in being of one mind.”

The actor James Cromwell, the face of the struggle against CPV, spoke next, sharing a message from Standing Rock. Their recent victory, in which the Army Corps announced a halt to pipeline construction near the reservation, was only “a partial victory,” he warned. “They’ve kicked the can down the road. They’re still drilling.”

Standing Rock needs supplies, money and food. What they don’t need is more people right now. It’s just too cold. “They’ve exhorted anyone who wants to come, to stay home,” he said, “and be bold in the action you take to protect our water.”