By Jeff Clark
Water is indisputably a core element of our existence, crucial to every part of our lives on this planet. It ripples throughout our human story, a fundamental relationship that inextricably connects us to the earth and to each other.
When such an important relationship is threatened, when the racist underpinnings of a situation are thinly (if at all) veiled, when basic human rights are challenged, as people of faith and as members of the human family, we cannot look away. And I personally must stand in solidarity with the protectors of Standing Rock.
As you are probably aware, Sacred Stone Camp in Cannon Ball, North Dakota currently sits at the heart of a protest sparking national attention. In an attempt to halt the construction of the Dakota Access Pipeline, thousands of people have gathered in land held sacred by the Standing Rock Sioux tribe. The pipeline would transfer as much as 570,000 barrels of crude oil daily from North Dakota to Illinois, and is proposed to travel underneath the Missouri River, a primary source of drinking water for millions. Facing a high possibility of water contamination, the desecration of burial grounds, and broken treaties, the protectors of the area include indigenous and non-Native people alike. The pipeline presents a multifaceted dilemma in the arenas of public health, environmental stewardship, and indigenous rights.
There are many ways to stand with our brothers and sisters in this crisis. #NoDAPL lists a number of solidarity actions on their website. The Atlantic magazine also reports that Standing Rock protesters have requested people “contact leaders in the Army Corps of Engineers and the Obama Administration in opposition to the pipeline.”
To these I would add two more: lament and pray. Lament the racism and injustice that indigenous people have suffered and continued to suffer in this country. And pray for change. As Mark Charles, a friend and past contributor of the Goose wrote in a recent blog post, what is happening to the Standing Rock Sioux is part of a broader systemic problem. May we all join in prayer that this broken system is repaired and may we also be a part of working to let “justice roll down like water.”
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On Friday afternoon, members of this movement scored a major triumph?—?just minutes after processing the news of a devastating legal setback. This remarkable turn of events is testament to the faith and fortitude of the Standing Rock Sioux tribe as well as the thousands of others who have joined their cause over the past several months. While their ultimate victory is yet to be won, there can be no doubt that these individuals have already made history by demanding justice and standing up for their rights.