A group of U.S. veterans asked Native American tribes for their forgiveness for the past misdeeds of the U.S. military on Native American people throughout U.S. history during a ceremony at the Standing Rock Sioux's reservation site in North Dakota (video below).
“Many of us, me particularly, are from the units that have hurt you over the many years. We came. We fought you. We took your land. We signed treaties that we broke. We stole minerals from your sacred hills. We blasted the faces of our presidents onto your sacred mountain,” said Wes Clark Jr., the son of retired U.S. Army general and former supreme commander at NATO Wesley Clark Sr., according to Salon.
Clark continued: “When we took still more land and then we took your children and then we tried to make your language and we tried to eliminate your language that God gave you, and the Creator gave you. We didn’t respect you, we polluted your Earth, we’ve hurt you in so many ways but we’ve come to say that we are sorry. We are at your service and we beg for your forgiveness.”
Chief Leonard Crow Dog, a prominent Native American activist, offered forgiveness and urged for world peace: “We do not own the land, the land owns us.”
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The moment of solidarity comes shortly after months of protesting against the proposed North Dakota Access Pipeline project, which the Standing Rock Sioux tribe has said would put their drinking water sources at risk of contamination.
On Dec. 4, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers announced it would not approve the final planned stage of the North Dakota Access Pipeline and that the project would have to be re-routed.
The announcement was seen as a victory for Native Americans, but with a new presidential administration taking over in less than two months, some activists were hesitant to celebrate.
"I'm really happy that I'm here to witness it and celebrate with a lot of my elders and the youth, but I think that we also need to keep in mind that we need to be ready to keep going," said protester Morning Star Angeline Chippewa-Freeland, according to CNN.