Sitting in a tarpee erected outside the Capitol Building in the US state of Washington, seven Indigenous women and their supporters have vowed to stay put.
They will stay until they are either arrested or politicians take action on climate change and native treaty rights.
“We will be here as long as they let us be here,” said Eva, a member of Santee Sioux Tribe.
“Today, this is all we have left,” she told Al Jazeera by phone. “We’ve been taken from and taken from.”
Eva, along with others from the indigenous community and their supporters, “occupied” the front lawn of the state capital in the city of Olympia on Monday, the first day of a new 60-day legislative session.
“While they’re inside doing their talks for the next 60 days, [we hope] they come to understand that the native nations people are watching them,” Eva said.
“We are outside and we are not leaving until you guys [politicians] understand that we don’t want fracked gas factories … [or] coal mining. We want them out.”
The group is demanding that Washington Governor Jay Inslee take a stronger stance against the expansion of the Kinder Morgan Trans Mountain pipeline, which carries oil from the Alberta tar sands to terminals and refineries in British Columbia, on Canada’s west coast, and the northern part of Washington state.
Indigenous and environmental rights groups say the pipeline threatens native sovereignty and puts wildlife, as well as the land and sea along the route, at risk.
nslee has expressed “serious concerns” about the pipeline project, but the group says it is not enough.
The women also called on the governor to respect native treaty rights and stop the use of fish farms.
“It takes something like this for our voice to be heard,” said Janene Hampton, who was among the women in the tarpee – a type of teepee – on Monday night.