Last week I preached on a passage in Jeremiah and the ongoing work of indigenous communities and activists to protect water here in Virginia, and in North Dakota. [Listen Here]. In the days to follow some of you shared with me your concern and activism in this area. I wanted to post some links and references from my sermon including the call to prayer that was issued. Though the time has passed, the prayers are undoubtedly still needed.
Right now, more than 4,000 people have gathered at the Camp of the Sacred Stones in North Dakota near the northern border of the Standing Rock Sioux tribe’s reservation. The people, known now as “Water Protectors,” amassed in an effort to stop an oil company from piping crude oil underneath the Missouri River, the main source of drinking water for the tribe and US citizens across three states. This project is known as the Dakota Access Oil Pipeline (DAPL).
Support for the tribe’s efforts has grown and now comes from tribes and peoples across the country and internationally, as well as individuals and groups concerned for issues raised by the DAPL, including the Native American Student Union at U.Va. who convened a gathering and march in downtown Charlottesville.
The Presbyterian churches in North Dakota have been helping to sustain the resistance, by gathering supplies and preparing food for the water protectors. As the witness continues, the Oceti Sakowin, Dakota Nation, also known as the Sioux Nation, has issued a call to prayer for today, October 8 through the 11th. The PC(USA) and other Christian denominations have already released statements of solidarity with the water protectors.
Now, in response to the situation at Standing Rock and other current instances of racial injustice, the Advocacy Committee on Racial Ethnic Concerns has issued a statement urging “our church and all of its members, but especially those who are white, to join us in breaking silence. Commit with us to raise our collective voice not just to proclaim the good news of God’s grace but to call out injustice, to call out the forces that threaten to tear us apart with xenophobic [and racist] rhetoric.”
The call to prayer is for:
- The earth and all the resources the Creator has provided;
- Wisdom, courage, and strength for the Standing Rock Sioux tribe and for its Chairman David Archambault and his family;
- Strength and courage for the Water Protectors and their families;
- Peace and unity at the camps;
- The provision of food, water, and shelter and the meeting of other needs for the Water Protectors, particularly those who plan to witness in winter;
- Wisdom and vision for the people working on the legal battles being fought to halt this pipeline and to honor the sovereignty of Native peoples;
- Patience and a willingness to rely on nonviolence for the government and corporate authorities involved; and
- The leaders of the Synod of Lakes & Prairies as they collect and discern where to use funds for the camps and the Water Protectors.