Over 100 participate in Defend Our Water: Day of Action

On October 24th, over 100 people gathered at the headwaters of the Ohio River in Pittsburgh. There, Native leaders Degawenodas, Wolf Clan of Seneca Nation, and Ojibwe “water walker” Sharon Day led a water ceremony to honor the waters we all depend on. Over 30 Native leaders attended the ceremony, including those from Seneca Nation, whose ancestral homeland includes Southwestern PA. Those in attendance brought water from their homes in communities ranging from New York to West Virginia, many of which have been directly impacted by the shale gas industry.

From there, we carried the water shared by participants and marched through downtown Pittsburgh to the shores of the Allegheny River, called the Ohi:yo’ in Seneca Nation. We rallied outside of the David L. Lawrence Convention Center where the Shale Insight 2018 Conference was taking place. There, hundreds of industry executives and politicians gathered to discuss their plans to expand the shale gas and plastics industry throughout the Ohio River Valley and beyond. As we arrived, EPA Administrator Andrew Wheeler had recently finished speaking about how the current administration plans to continue deregulating the shale gas industry.

While some executives emerged from the conference to watch, Native leaders, directly impacted community members, and local environmental leaders spoke. They highlighted the importance of Native rights, the need to protect our water from the threats of the expanding petrochemical industry, and the impacts that community members are already facing. The rally concluded by returning the water that had been carried and blessed back into the river and by sharing a song and dance led by women from Seneca Nation.

Mountain Watershed Association was honored to support these efforts by helping to organize the events and by awarding funds to make it all possible through the Direct Support Fund. You can read more about the action in coverage by the Post-Gazette here.