Circle of Solidarity

by Carol Kindt

On Wednesday, January 31, 2018, the day dawned following a Super Blue Blood Moon.  Women from every walk of life, accompanied by children and male supporters, gathered around noon for a circle of prayer led by elder Nancy Shippentower.  The Circle of Solidarity, formed by Puyallup tribal members, water warriors, indigenous women and men from other Salish Sea tribes, members of 350 Tacoma, 350 Seattle, and Redefine Tacoma and many other environmental justice groups spread out on the sidewalk in front of the fence on East Alexander Avenue, the site of the Puget Sound Energy LNG tank being constructed absent permits.

As colorful banners and signs were raised, one of the first things demonstrators noticed was that the trees along the sidewalk had been chopped down.  In solidarity, women and men climbed up on the stumps of those trees, holding their signs high.  The intent of the day was a prayerful gathering to reflect the impact of the facility upon the lives of these women, men, and their children.  Groups of drummers, singers, and supporters formed along the fence, maintaining the reverence of this day.  They continued to sing as they moved down the line, stopping only to give thanks to Mother Earth and offer support to fellow water warriors.

The 100-plus gathering was greeted upon arrival by multiple police officers on bicycles and police vehicles parked nearby.  It was apparent by the first prayer that their presence was unnecessary, and they huddled together for the entire duration of the demonstration, with nothing to do.  By 2 PM the sun revealed itself through the overcast sky, as the drumming and prayerful singing continued and the tree standers remained on their stumps.  Children with masks covering their faces to protect them from the caustic odors of the area ran around and signed a banner created to thank the Puget Sound Clean Air Agency (PSCAA) for requiring a Supplemental Environmental Impact Statement (SEIS) on this ill conceived project.

Most of the women and men involved in this day had just traveled to Seattle two days earlier to support a resolution proposed by council member Kshama Sawant and endorsed by the Puyallup Tribal Council.  This was not a day of celebration but rather a day of prayerful reflection and resolve to continue to oppose the unnecessary and dangerous LNG facility.  The day started with prayer and ended with prayer, a Circle of Solidarity.