|Art by Jesus Barraza|
Historic things are happening in Standing Rock Sioux (Lakota / Oceti Sakowin) territories, near the border of North and South Dakota. Thousands of people, primarily Native Americans, are camped out at the point where the Dakota Access Pipeline (DAPL) construction easement intersects with the Missouri river, pledging unrelenting non-violent resistance to stop the pipeline from crossing beneath the water body. Momentum for this current surge of action has been building for many months.
The Sacred Stone Spirit Camp (Iŋyaŋ Wakháŋagapi Othí) was established April 1, 2016 with a 30-mile horseback ride of tribal citizens of the Standing Rock Lakota Nation and ally Lakota, Nakota, & Dakota citizens, under the group name “Chante tin’sa kinanzi Po”. Dozens of youth from the Standing Rock Sioux Lakota (Oceti Sakowin) tribe ran a 500-mile relay to deliver a message to the Army Corps of Engineers in April 2016, and a 2,000 miles relay all the way to Washington, D.C. to deliver a message to the US Government in July and August of 2016.
The Indigenous-led resistance to the Dakota Access Pipeline has been rooted in prayer and reverence for the sacredness of the water and the earth. Numerous days of resistance have involved continuous prayer. The people there are saying, “We are protectors, not protesters”.
Now --- with numbers of active protectors blossoming to literally thousands of people --- numerous “spirit camps” have formed alongside the Camp of the Sacred Stones , such as the Red Warrior Camp. This resistance has become the biggest gathering of tribes in over one-hundred years. The Lummi Nation’s Totem Pole Journey to build Native solidarity for climate justice visited the Standing Rock Sioux tribal council and protectors at the encampments this week, on their way to delivering the totem pole to the tribes of Manitoba (video).
The UUA President, Rev. Peter Morales, on Wednesday, August 30th, released this statement:
The construction of the massive Dakota Access pipeline, stretching from North Dakota to Illinois, is a textbook case of marginalizing minority communities in the drive to increase fossil fuel supplies. As people of faith and conscience, committed to protecting the interdependent web of all life and supporting indigenous rights, Unitarian Universalists cannot remain silent as land held sacred by our Native American siblings is threatened.
We join other faith groups and native tribes to support the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe as they oppose the construction of this dangerous pipeline. I am proud to see that Unitarian Universalists in the region are already joining the protests. But I know that more is urgently needed. I urge you to join the effort to bear public witness to the injustice in North Dakota and add your voice to oppose the Dakota Access Pipeline.
Photo by Aly Tharp - Image shows Demonstrators at the Dallas Headquarters of Energy Transfer Partners during Solidarity Protest Organized by the Central Texas American Indian Movement, September 2, 2016
There is no shortage of ways that you can support! Here are a few:
1. Lift up this important struggle and the message that Water Is Life at a community water ceremony!
2. You can sign the Pledge to Resist the Dakota Access Pipeline.
3. The Camp of the Sacred Stones and Red Warrior Camp have jointly called for solidarity actions across the country, September 3 - 17th, targeting the pipeline owners and financiers (more info). To look for an action near you, or add an action to the map, click here.
4. There are general funds and legal funds that you can support (more info).
5. The camp plans to be there indefinitely, and has begun having school programs for young children. Supplies donations can be made through the camps’ Amazon wish lists, dropped off at the Bismark-Mandan UU Congregation or mailed to Sacred Stone Camp, P.O. Box 1011, Fort Yates, ND 58538. Some specific items that have been requested are: Shelves for the kitchen, Shade canopies and tents, Children’s books and school supplies, Generators, Solar showers, Solar batteries/chargers, Women’s long skirts, Non-perishable food, Food compost bins, Tables and chairs, Propane, Solar showers, Sleeping bags, Sleeping cots, Wood 2x4’s and plywood, off-grid washing machines, and more.
6. Follow the Camp of the Sacred Stones and the Red Warrior Camp on Facebook to stay informed about current happenings, and help amplify independent media about what is happening. Be vocal in your support for stopping the Dakota Access Pipeline. The main hashtags being used are #NoDAPL and #WaterIsLife.
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“It can be a long way from the head to the heart.” Jay Julius- Lummi