As Christians, we are conditioned by the gospel to stand on the side of the persecuted and the jailed. For many months, the water protectors at Standing Rock in North Dakota have stood in peaceful opposition to the construction of the Dakota Access Pipeline. This pipeline would carry oil from North Dakota to Illinois, crossing sacred lands and rivers that provide water to millions.
The advocates at Standing Rock have resolutely declared that they are not protestors but protectors and defenders acting out of a sacred obligation which affirms “water is life.”
In a pattern familiar to our faith, they have stood as peacemakers while government authorities and hate-filled hecklers deride them as criminals, rioters, and terrorists. Recent reports tell the story of children, women, and men gathering in prayer and song, only to suffer at the hands of those wielding batons and pointing rifles. Advocates have been arrested, strip-searched, and humiliated. We have witnessed an escalating, militarized response to their acts of nonviolence.
These offenses are part of a larger story of ongoing racial injustice. In a letter to the Attorney General, Standing Rock Chairman Dave Archambault II reminds us that, “This country has a long and sad history of using military force against indigenous people–including the Sioux Nation.”
Now is the time for action. Stand in solidarity with Chairman Archambault and the water protectors in prayer and action. Call on our leaders to end the militarized response at Standing Rock!