Lake Tahoe supporters of Standing Rock host benefit concert; Washoe elders to speak |

Lake Tahoe supporters of Standing Rock host benefit concert; Washoe elders to speak

Claire Cudahy
Jory Lazore, a first-year student at LTCC, attends a protest against the Dakota Access Pipeline with fellow Tahoe for Standing Rock members on Nov. 9 outside of Harrah's Lake Tahoe.
Claire Cudahy / Tahoe Daily Tribune |

Finding common ground as “water protectors,” a group of over 100 volunteers from around Lake Tahoe have come together to host a benefit concert for the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe and its protest against the Dakota Access Pipeline.

The event — set for Saturday, Dec. 3 from 1-6 p.m. at the Tahoe Biltmore Lodge & Casino — takes place during an uncertain time for the thousands of protesters camped out along the Missouri River.

On Tuesday, Nov. 29, North Dakota Gov. Jack Dalrymple issued a mandatory evacuation order for the campsites where protesters have been based for more than six months in teepees and tents.

Citing the winter weather conditions, Dalrymple echoed the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers’ Dec. 5 deadline for protesters to evacuate or risk arrest.

“I think this all resonates with Tahoe because we are grateful to have such an abundant source of clean water,” said Chad Wilkins, an Incline Village-based musician, who co-organized the event and will be performing at it.

“It really resonates with me because I see this as an issue that has global implications. There are hundreds of ‘Standing Rocks’ going on at any given time, and this is one that has so much tension because if we win this battle, it sets a precedent.

“It’s a big battle in so many ways. There’s spiritual connections, racial tension, Native land rights, and it’s hugely an environmental issue.”

The Tahoe for Standing Rock Water Protectors Benefit Concert features a number of local and regional musicians, as well as speeches from members of the Washoe Tribe.

Elder Dinah Pete will start the fundraising event with a prayer ceremony. Elder Benny Fillmore, a lifelong activist, will give attendees an update on what’s happening at the front line of the protest in North Dakota, where three of his children are currently based.

Nine-year-old Little Miss Washoe, Nevaeh Lannay Montoya, volunteered to speak about why the movement at Standing Rock is important to her.

Meyer’s resident John Dayberry, an active supporter of Washoe cultural revitalization, will also say a few words about the 1,172-mile pipeline designed to travel from North Dakota to Illinois, and ultimately on to refineries on the Gulf and East coasts. The pipeline would travel under the Missouri River, the Standing Rock Tribe’s primary source of drinking water, and traverse a sacred burial ground.

Neena McFair Family Singers, a Native women’s drumming group from the region, will kick off the musical portion of the event, followed by a performance from North Shore’s Joaquin Fioresi.

“He does a lot of tantric chanting,” said Wilkins, who describes his own musical style as “positive conscious roots music with an uplifting vibe.”

The Truckee-based band Orenda Blu will be in attendance to perform indigenous chants from across the globe, as will Peter Joseph Burtt, a trio from the North Shore that draws inspiration from African musicians and their traditional instruments.

The seven-member Sneaky Creatures, a “Gypsy-Swing-Rock-a-Folky-Alt-Country-Jazzy-Tonk” band from North Lake, will round out the show.

There will be additional performances by Imagine “Voices with a Purpose” Youth Choir and Tahoe Flow Arts Performers, as well as kid-friendly activities, a raffle and an art auction.

“One-hundred percent of the proceeds are going to the people of Standing Rock,” said Wilkins, pointing to the importance of the next few days for protesters.

On Sunday, Dec. 4, 2,000 veterans are set to join demonstrators on the front line of the protest in North Dakota — just one day before the evacuation deadline.

“The needs there are changing so rapidly … Is it still going to be firewood, food and clothing? Or is it legal fees to help fight the battle?”

Tahoe for Standing Rock T-shirts will be available for purchase, and attendees can make additional cash or check donations to Standing Rock at the event, which was sponsored by nonprofit Esperanza Foundation, Inc.

Tickets are available for purchase online at for $20, or they can be purchased at the door. Children younger than 12 are free.

“For me, yes, it’s about water — and we here in Tahoe understand that, but it’s also about human rights, indigenous rights,” said event co-organizer Yvonne Stillman.

“We’re taking advantage of them again, and that’s not right.”

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