Gabriel Ayala, a classically trained guitarist and world famous musician, has given numerous recitals at the Arizona Senior Academy. But his upcoming Academy appearance—scheduled for 2:30 p.m. Wednesday (May 2)—will include a different side of Ayla’s character: his concern for what he calls the “Silent Genocide” of Native Americans.
Ayala, a member of the Yaqui people of Southern Arizona, will describe—with his words and his music—his involvement in the 2016-2017 efforts by Native Americans to block construction of the Dakota Access Pipeline.
“I will be performing as well as lecturing,” Ayala said. “I’m tying the two together as I’m the same individual. This matter is very important to me.”
The pipeline, projected to run from the Bakken oil fields in western North Dakota to southern Illinois, crossing beneath the Missouri and Mississippi Rivers, as well as under part of Lake Oahe near the Standing Rock Sioux Indian Reservation. Many in the Standing Rock tribe considered the pipeline and its intended crossing of the Missouri River to constitute a threat to the region’s clean water and to ancient burial grounds.
Starting in the spring of 2016, thousands of Native Americans representing more than 300 tribes gathered at the Standing Rock reservation to block the pipeline. President Obama’s administration listened to their complaints, but after Donald Trump’s election and approval for the completion of the pipeline the number of protesters gradually decreased and on February 23, 2017 the National Guard and law enforcement officers evicted those that remained. The pipeline opened om May.
Ayala wants Americans to remember what happened at Standing Rock and learn from it “It is important for me to speak about political issues that affect everyone,” he said. “Water isn’t just a native issue. It is a human being issue.”
Written by Mike Maharry, Academy Village Volunteer