Originally published on Edenkeeper.org
Violence is escalating against the Water Protectors of the Standing Rock Sioux. On Sunday night, November 20th, temperatures were below freezing when peaceful protesters were fired on with water cannons, tear gas, and rubber bullets.
We need to act now to help support their peaceful, unarmed efforts to protect their sacred sites and native homelands from the encroaching Dakota Access Pipeline (DAPL).
In an email to Edenkeeper from Susan Stephenson, Executive Director of Interfaith Power & Light (IPL), Susan shared the beautiful experience of Minnesota IPL members participating in a prayer event with the Standing Rock Sioux in North Dakota.
Undoubtedly, one of the best ways to help is prayer. Lifting up our Native American sisters and brothers on the frontline of this crisis offers a tangible solace to our souls. Both those being prayed for and those offering the prayers are joined in a cosmic bond of compassion, invigorated by an unseen force unlimited in its ability to strengthen our resolve, patience, and energy.
Praying with the Water Protectors of Standing Rock
“Two weeks ago,” shared Julia Nerbonne and Erin Pratt, “Minnesota Interfaith Power & Light joined them in that sacred affirmation, along with 500+ people of faith, representing more than 20 faith traditions. It was an incredibly powerful day of prayerful action, an important moment to repudiate the doctrine of discovery and its legacy of violence and oppression that continues today.”
Nerbonne and Pratt continued, “As people of faith, we understand that this is about the sacred water, our climate, and the human rights of Indigenous People. We must stand with the people of Standing Rock, whose resistance is rooted deeply in prayer and nonviolence.”
“We Must Protect our Children and our Grandchildren”
Since early 2016, Native Americans and compassionate supporters have been protesting the Dakota Access Pipeline. LaDonna Brave Bull Allard is a member of the Standing Rock Sioux of Fort Yates, North Dakota. She is a landowner impacted by the DAPL route and is one of the founders of the Sacred Stone Camp.
In an interview on EcoWatch.com, LaDonna stated, “On April first we started the Sacred Stone Camp to stand up against Dakota Access Pipeline. We have been here since then, standing up in prayer, doing our best to stop a pipeline that will damage our water.”
“First and foremost,” she explained, “we are water protectors, we are women who stand because the water is female, and so we must stand with the water. If we are to live as a people, we must have water, without water we die. So everything we do as we stand here, we must make sure that we do it in prayer, and that we do it in civil-disobedience. We do it with goodness and kindness in our hearts, but we stand up.”
“We will not let them pass. We stand. Because we must protect our children and our grandchildren.”
Escalating Violence Against the Water Protectors
Annie Leonard, executive director of Greenpeace USA, reported on the escalation of violence that began on Thursday, October 27, “Heavily armed authorities pushed through a supply area for the Water Protectors blockade Thursday. The public witnessed a new level of escalation that day in the Native struggle at Standing Rock, as police swept through an encampment in the direct path of the Dakota Access pipeline.”
Leonard continued, “The resulting standoff with the National Guard, and police officers from various states, led to 141 arrests. Advancing authorities attacked Water Protectors with flash grenades, bean bag launchers, pepper spray and Long Range Acoustic Devices.”
— Lakota Child (@PMagouirk) November 1, 2016
The government-sanctioned violence against the water protectors has been continuous and egregious. But this past Sunday evening, November 20, water protectors faced an even worse onslaught of abuse as police authorities attacked again.
As temperatures fell below freezing, police forces outfitted in riot gear formed a line to prevent protesters from moving. Then, careless of inflicting hypothermia on their trapped victims, police sprayed the activists with a water cannon mounted on top of an armored vehicle.
Throughout the terrible attack, which lasted long into the night, mace, tear gas, rubber bullets, and concussion grenades were also used against the unarmed Water Protectors. Tara Houska, an organizer with Honor the Earth, said over 200 people had been sprayed with mace and tear gas, pelted with rubber bullets, or soaked with water.
— Tommy (@MagicZoetrope) November 21, 2016
Annie Leonard affirms, “Greenpeace stands in solidarity with and lends full support to the water protectors at Standing Rock, and we recognize the rights and sovereignty of the Standing Rock Sioux, accorded by the Fort Laramie Treaties of 1851 and 1868.”
In solidarity with IPL, Leonard states, “We call on President Obama to use his executive power to revoke the permits for construction of the Dakota Access Pipeline immediately. And we reject the actions of North Dakota law enforcement in favoring the interests of Energy Transfer Partners and the fossil fuel industry over the rights of this land’s inhabitants.”
Leonard adds, “We join in proclaiming the sacred power of water and the responsibility we have to protect it at all costs. And we urge our government to respect the sovereignty of the Standing Rock Sioux, whose constitutional right to peacefully protest has been unjustly met by a militarized police force.”
— Unicorn Riot (@UR_Ninja) November 21, 2016
Please Stand With the People of Standing Rock
In the next few days, Interfaith Power & Light will be delivering a message on behalf of the Standing Rock Sioux to President Obama. It’s not too late to add your name to the list of compassionate individuals and faith communities who have already signed this important message.
“We know the value of our traditions and sacred spaces,” states Nerbonne and Pratt. “For the Standing Rock Sioux Nation, this pipeline not only puts their only source of clean water at risk, it violates their sacred burial grounds.”
They continue, “We have a small window of time in which the Army Corps has stopped Energy Access Pipeline from completing construction. They need to hear from us now more than ever that the Army Corps should deny the permit outright.”
Help Protect the Sacred: Our Children, the Earth, and our Future
“This pipeline doesn’t just endanger the Standing Rock Sioux Nation,” explains IPL’s Nerbonne and Pratt. “By investing in oil infrastructure we are committing ourselves, as a nation, to deepening our dependence on fossil fuels – the greatest contributor to global warming.”
“It is time for people of faith and conscience to stand with Indigenous communities to protect the sacred: Our children, the Earth, and our future. Sign the petition today asking President Obama to direct the Army Corps to deny the permit. Then forward the petition to your friends and family and share a printable version in your faith community!”
Full Text of IPL’s Message to President Obama:
Interfaith Power & Light
President Obama, No Dakota Access Pipeline
Dear President Obama,
As people of faith from across the country, we stand in solidarity with the Standing Rock Sioux tribe to protect their sacred lands, their water, and the climate that supports life on this planet.
We urge you to direct the Army Corps to deny the permit for the Dakota Access Pipeline which violates the 1851 Fort Laramie Treaty, would endanger the drinking water of 10 million people, and is a risk to our climate. Energy Transfer Partners has ignored formal requests to voluntarily “stop work.” It’s time to revoke their permit.
This pipeline will not only jeopardize the local environment in North Dakota, but by sending dangerous tar sands oil 1200 miles across the heartland of our nation, it threats many millions more. We know by now that leaks and spills are almost inevitable, and we do not believe this is a risk worth taking with our Earth and our communities.
Constructing one thousand miles of pipeline through 58 counties and four states represents a long-term investment in fossil fuels. Scientists tell us we have only a few short years to transition to renewable energy and stop burning fossil fuels if we are to have any hope of keeping global warming under 2 degrees Celsius, as we committed to do in the Paris climate accord. Approving a new pipeline now, to carry the most dangerous and dirtiest form of oil, is counter to that commitment and will undermine our progress in shifting to clean energy.
Therefore we implore you to revoke the permit for the Dakota Access Pipeline project entirely.
Instead, let’s honor our commitment to the world and to the Indigenous people of this country by working to protect and defend all we hold sacred: our lands, our water, the health of our communities, and a safe climate for generations to come.