Greta Thunberg calls upon local citizens to take action against climate change

A 16-year-old climate activist from Sweden who recently made headlines at the United Nations Climate Action Summit rallied protestors of all ages, religions and races for a march to Rapid City’s City Hall on Monday, Oct. 7.

Greta Thunberg spoke about the importance of listening to indigenous leaders on climate change, as well as speaking out against the proposed Keystone XL Pipeline that is poised to run through western South Dakota.

“Indigenous peoples have been leading this fight for centuries,” Thunberg said. “They have taken care of the planet and they have lived in balance with nature and we need to make sure that their voices are being heard. We need to listen to them because they have knowledge that is valuable right now.”

The rally was organized by the Lakota People’s Law Project, Last Real Indians, NDN Collective and the Oglala Sioux Tribe and featured speakers from the ACLU to the frontlines of the Dakota Access Pipeline Protests in early 2017. The Upstream Singers, a drum group from Rosebud, S.D., performed a selection of traditional Lakota songs and chants.

Thunberg was first invited to South Dakota by 16-year-old Tokatawin Iron Eyes, another climate activist from Pine Ridge who also spoke at Monday’s rally. The pair began their journey in Pine Ridge on Sunday, speaking at a forum with community members at the Red Cloud Indian School. Iron Eyes and Thunberg will host another forum on Tuesday on the Standing Rock Reservation.

The overall theme of the rally and the proceeding march served as a call to action.

“This crisis does not care about the imaginary political boundaries that we put up around each other,” Iron Eyes said. “It does not care whether you’re rich or poor, black or white. We want a livable planet.”

A Rapid City Police Department spokesman told the Rapid City Journal that around 400 people attended the rally, which began at Memorial Park before the march to City Hall.

Renowned climate activists Tokatawin Iron Eyes (left) and Greta Thunberg (right) speak to protesters gathered at the Memorial Park bandshell in Rapid City, S.D. on Monday, Oct. 7.
The Upstream Singers perform a traditional Lakota song prior to the march on City Hall.