You are currently viewing Walk the Talk — Protect Sacred Spaces and Phase Out Fossil Fuels

Walk the Talk — Protect Sacred Spaces and Phase Out Fossil Fuels

By Isabella Zizi, Movement Rights‘ National Organizer

Walk coordinators and 7DS co-founders Jason Keck and Crystal Cavalier Keck

Movement Rights was invited to walk 4.5 miles in solidarity with 7 Directions of Service and frontline communities who are being directly impacted by Mountain Valley Pipeline (MVP) Southgate, a large gas station and LNG projects. The walk started alongside the Dan River in the town now known as Eden, North Carolina to a Historic Marker of Lower Saur Town, a historic Native village site threatened by the MVP Southgate.

When I first arrived, there was this feeling of welcoming that poured out with the volunteers, organizers and most importantly, the land. I was welcomed by flappy flags reading “PROTECT SACRED SPACES,” “PHASE OUT FOSSIL FUELS” and gigantic puppets reflecting the waters and the sun that were made by the Paperhand Puppet Intervention. Despite the cold weather, there were over 200 participants, including at least 23 independent Tribal Nations who traveled near and far from California, Texas, Louisiana, Minnesota, Virginia, Florida and more.


Jason Crazy Bear Campos-Keck, co-founder of 7 Directions of Service, led us with the ground rules for the walk which was shared as a call and response “This walk is peaceful and prayerful.” This stayed true for the entirety of the walk from set up to clean up. As guests to the Occaneechi Band of Saponi lands we were invited to come as an “empty plate”, an attitude/mentality of showing up as an open and receptive guest, as well as a willingness to “wait for an invitation and ask for permission.”

I walked behind a family, the majority were kids no older than 10 years old. They were full of laughter and support for their elders as they shared turns pushing and pulling the wagon carrying the youngest kids and snacks. Revolutionary songs were heard echoing in the front where a sacred staff, AIM flags, hand drums and rattles were complimenting each step. Trash was being picked up by the load and carried by the car shuttles when the bags got full.  Guard dogs watched from yards with gentle curiosity. Neighbors drove by as we waved peacefully while volunteer canvassers approached those who had questions with informal brochures. It was a surprise for most, but none of the neighbors that came outside knew about the MVP Southgate and other projects.

Mountain Valley Pipeline Southgate is a methane gas extension of the MVP main line, an incomplete 42-inch fracked gas pipeline project that spans over 303 miles from northern West Virginia to southern Virginia. This wasn’t the only concern that was shared by cofounder of 7 Directions of Service and Board Member of Movement Rights, Crystal Cavalier-Keck. A 32.5 acre, 120 pump Buc-ee’s gas station was approved by Alamance County, despite the majority of community members voicing opposition and concerns of the desecration of the old Occaneechi Trading Path in Mebane, NC.

The following day, I was invited to participate in a grassroots strategy session with 7 Directions of Service and North Carolina Environmental Justice Network to dive into deeper conversations and resources around the Buc-ee’s gas station. The Buc-ee’s gas station is one of the projects highlighted during the walk. It is proposed to be the next largest gas station on earth, 120 pumps, and will pave over 32.5 acres along the Occaneechi Trading Path if constructed. This same gas station was defeated in Orange County in 2020.

With Sharon Lavigne
With Sharon Lavigne

It was inspiring to be with a resilient and activated group of people standing in solidarity to protect the waters and sacred spaces, to then find out these same communities are dealing with at least 5 projects all at once. Imagine the many layers of colonization and capitalism the Occaneechi Band of Saponi Nation have to deal with on a daily basis as they try to preserve and protect their identity, culture, traditions and sacred spaces.

Christa Mancias with Movement Rights’ Isabella Zizi

We were all so moved by the frontline voices for sharing their experiences with fossil fuel and LNG resistance throughout the day and wanted to give gratitude to them. We are honored to have walked alongside and supported the work of: Juan Mancias and Christa Mancias of the Carrizo Comecrudo Tribe in Texas, Russell Chisholm who is Co-Director POWHR, Sharon Lavigne of Rise St. James and Mary Crowe, Just Transition organizer, IEN.




What’s Next? Tribunal on MVP and the Rights of the Haw River

Stay tuned: Movement Rights is working towards next steps for a Rights of Nature Tribunal with 7 Directions of Service in North Carolina near the Haw River State Park June 1st. To stay informed and up to date with support and actions needed, be sure to follow Movement Rights, the Global Alliance for the Rights of Nature and our partners at  7 Directions of Service.


Movement Rights is founded on the idea that we must align human law (and culture) with the laws of the natural world—the future of humanity depends on it. Since our inception in December 2014, we have established our work as a vital and respected piece of the climate justice mosaic. We know no single part of our movements for justice can win on its own—we believe in the power of frontline leadership and true solidarity, sharing and integrating strategies, tactics, resources and learning from each other. We are strategically small, because it allows us to support the communities we work with in ways that ensure the leadership and our resources stay with and empower them. While we are proud of our many accomplishments, one of the benefits of our size is that we do not need to focus on branding our work, which allows us some freedom to work in quiet ways when it serves the greater good.

We are in the streets, in the news and in the courts, providing research and reports, convening strategic gatherings large and small, speaking at the UN, community meetings, regulatory hearings, and more. We work with national and global climate allies, sovereign Indigenous nations and communities. We have helped thousands of people connect the dots between the critical time we find ourselves in and the solutions that Indigenous people have always known: human activity must take place within the natural system of laws that govern life on Earth.

Please consider donating to support our work, visiting our website, following us on Twitter/X, InstagramYoutube and Facebook, and subscribing to our online newsletter