Indigenous leaders from Ecuador joined the protectors at Standing Rock recently to show solidarity and share information, as their community has had some victories against oil companies and politicians in the past few years.
In an interview on September 14, Viteri explained the reasons for the visit and outlined the connections between indigenous communities in the north and south. News of the struggle at Standing Rock had reached them, and Viteri and his group had been selected by the Sarayaku communities to “stand in solidarity with our brothers and sisters,” the veteran activist and leader said.
“We came from the Amazon jungle with a message of strength and solidarity for the Sioux,” Viteri said. “My people are very conscious, because of our history and our tradition, just like the tribes here, of our connection with nature, with Mother Earth; we know that this is what gives balance to life here on Earth. The transnational corporations, like those trying to build this oil pipeline, are blind because they don’t understand the language of nature.”
Viteri noted that his Kichwa community had been in contact with other tribes in the U.S. before, but not with the Standing Rock Sioux. He also pointed out that he had seen other indigenous people from Latin America at the camp, and recalled that he had spoken with a few from Honduras, Peru and El Salvador. Another Amazonian indigenous community from Ecuador will be coming, Viteri said. He closed the interview with a message for the protectors at Standing Rock and others throughout North America.
“In the name of all the children, elders, women, the birds, the large and small animals that depend on water to survive, the Kichwa people extend a greeting,” he said, “a sacred greeting of respect for nature and for the life of all the peoples of the North, because we know that if water is destroyed, life on Earth will end.”