Southwest Conference member Rev. Delle McCormick is among nearly 600 clergy who are participating in a prayer and action that will stand witness to water protectors against the North Dakota Access Pipeline (DAPL) Nov. 3-4 at Standing Rock Sioux Reservation. We are holding them and all persons gathered in this justice cause in prayer, and look forward to their safe return.
Tribal leaders and water protector organizers shared a phone call with conference ministers earlier this week. The purpose of the call was to build community and a network, to start creating a sign on letter of support to magnify the voices of the indigenous peoples and amplify the prayers of all of our clergy colleagues who are there today and tomorrow. The call also provided information about what is happening on the ground there. Here are highlights from the conversation.
- Men who were praying in a sweat lodge were forcibly removed and made to sit outside in the cold while it was bulldozed. DAPL has hired mercenaries who are using both real and rubber bullets (rubber bullets can also kill, and cause serious injury).
- Reports are circulating that North Dakota Department of Human Services will be sending Child Protection Program workers to the camp to remove children. People have been warned to send their children home.
- Police are coming from other places around the country to participate in these actions.
- The water protectors are in prayer for themselves and for the police and others who are engaging in violence.
"The situation seems eerily similar to Wounded Knee, with militarized persons taunting and intimidating unarmed indigenous people to try and provoke them," reported Maine Conference Minister Deborah Blood.
For many indigenous people, the arrival of clergy may raise difficult feelings given the history of Christian missionaries and others taking their children and destroying indigenous culture. So, there is a need for great sensitivity on the part of clergy who are lending support to the water protectors by being present. "In the SD Conference we spent years building relationship and trust with our Lakota churches," said South Dakota Conference Minister Gordon Rankin. "I believe allied action is imperative but it is not lost on me that that there is risk in these Allied actions that if a church person does the wrong thing it could damage that relationship. I pray about that a lot."
The racism and conflict unfolding over the DAPL is fueled by the Doctrine of Discovery. The Twenty-ninth General Synod of the United Church of Christ repudiated the Doctrine of Discovery, calling on the church to take actions like the one happening this week at Standing Rock. A five lesson series, The Repudiation of the Doctrine of Discovery: Biblical Reflection is available from the United Church of Christ.
The Southwest Conference UCC repudiates the doctrine of discovery. We honor the sovereignty of the First Nations people. We stand, speak, and act in solidarity with the people whose holy ground is called Standing Rock Sioux Reservation. We move at their invitation, grateful for their leadership, with offerings of prayer, provision, and presence.
There are ways you can help the water protectors.
Join the action. Supporters are welcome to the front lines.
Share your resources. Supplies and financial support are needed at both the Sacred Stone Camp and the Red Warrior Camp. Both the Red Warrior Camp Legal Fund and the Sacred Stone Legal Defense Fund are assisting with legal fees.
Be informed. Share the news coming from the Standing Stone Camp on Facebook.
The clergy at Standing Rock will gather for Communion early tomorrow morning (Nov. 3rd), and stand with Tribal leaders at 9am central time, 7 am MST. Their service of unity and healing will include the following prayer. As we have seen from social media reports, they risk danger from militarized police units. Therefore let us pray...
We pray for our family at Standing Rock.
We pray for Our Sister Water who is our life.
We pray for the healing and safety of the Water Protectors.
We pray for all those gathered at the Standing Rock camp.
We pray for those who are suffering from the trauma unleashed by the violence that occurred on 27 October.
We pray for traditional communities that have borne the brunt of generations of violence, even at times, turning that violence on themselves and each other.
We pray for healing for the police;
For the healing for the pipeline workers;
For the bankers who fund the pipeline.
We pray for the people who are so disconnected from their mother that they continue to injure her.
We pray for those who are on the Forgiveness Walk on Sunday to the police station in Mandan, SD.
We pray for healing for the hatred that was Generated on 27 October.
We acknowledge the sins of our ancestors, the horrific acts perpetrated on our brothers and sisters as a result of the doctrine of discovery,
we ask for forgiveness and healing from our sisters and brothers,
we pray for unity and oneness for all creation.
Without this healing we can¹t think clearly, we can¹t act rightly, and we can¹t serve our Mother in the fullest manner.