Two Mennonite-connected groups have released statements calling for Mennonites to act in solidarity with the building movement led by the Standing Rock Sioux Nation in North Dakota. Beginning in August, members of the Standing Rock Sioux Nation, joined by indigenous groups from around the world, calling themselves “water protectors,” led a movement against the construction of the Dakota Access Pipeline, which would cross the Missouri River just a mile from the tribe’s land and that has already destroyed several sacred burial sites. You can also read previous statements released by Mennonite Central Committee Central States and written by Katerina Friesen.
Photo by Ken Gingerich.
Statement from the Mennonite Doctrine of Discovery Coalition. Written by Anita Amstutz.
As Mennonites, many who have been a people of the land, we understand the gift of creation and see the powers arrayed against our community’s clean air, water and soil today. We call upon all people of all faiths to take a stand, speak out, and walk with those who are who “standing in the way” of the ongoing desecration of the earth and her peoples.
Today, Indigenous people are the ones leading us in nonviolent action and prayer, calling us all to protect the sacred trust of water. The Standing Rock Sioux Nation (Oceti Sakowin) of North Dakota have chosen to reclaim their sacred burial sites and ancestral homeland next to the Missouri River. It was given to them in the U.S. Treaty of 1851, but revoked by our state and federal governments. A private corporation is seeking to construct an oil pipeline on this land without an agreement from the Standing Rock Nation. The Dakota Access Pipeline (DAPL) would carry billions of gallons of oil from the North Dakota Bakken oil fields through farmlands, run under the Missouri river in two places, and would cross rural communities and sensitive water and wildlife habitat. It is the Standing Rock Sioux’s and many rural communities’ only source of water. As the Standing Rock Nation has reminded all of us, water is a sacred trust: Mni Wiconi or “Water is life.”
The pipeline is a violation of sovereign rights, human rights and the rights of nature. As Christians, we know that right livelihood requires care for people and God’s creation first and foremost. To this end, we call upon all our leaders and the people of Jesus’ way to stand with land-based people in this struggle happening now for land and water sovereignty and human rights through practices of prayer, presence and offerings toward public defense:
- Congregational prayer: Invite your congregations to surround and encompass the people holding nonviolent peaceful vigil at Standing Rock on the front lines every Sunday between now and Thanksgiving. We need “spiritual warriors” who can surround the people there in Divine love and light.
- Fast for a day: Invite friends and your community to a day of prayer and fasting on November 4, a day of action when 100 gathered clergy will hold a peaceful vigil with the people at Standing Rock. It is also a day of policy advocacy by a Mennonite faith-based delegation to Washington D.C. on behalf of the Miskitu people, whose lands are threatened in Nicaragua, and the Wayana people of Suriname.
- Peaceful witness: If you are interested in being part of a Mennonite faith-based delegation to Standing Rock, please fill out this form at the Doctrine of Discovery Coalition’s website.
- There is also a clergy witness organized by the Episcopalian Church of North Dakota at Standing Rock on November 4.
III. Public defense funds
- Funds are needed for the legal defense of nonviolent protestors who have been arrested and incarcerated. Support them here: https://fundrazr.com/d19fAf
Stand with Standing Rock: An open letter from the Anabaptist Mennonite Biblical Seminary, Elkhart, Indiana, community
As Christians, we are called by the gospel to stand with the oppressed and the marginalized. For weeks now we have been following news of the Water Protectors gathering at Standing Rock to resist the Dakota Access Pipeline. We have been praying with them, that their voices would be heard, that justice would be done, and that they would persist in prayerful nonviolence.
We want to join our voices to the Water Protectors who are calling us all to protect the sacred trust of water. As they remind us, Mni Wiconi: Water is Life. We call on our Anabaptist Mennonite community to stand with Standing Rock through prayer, presence and financial action.
Stand with Standing Rock in prayer
- As individuals and congregations, you can join the Water Protectors in prayer, calling upon the Lord to let justice roll down like pure waters, and righteousness like an ever-flowing, forever-unpolluted stream.
- Invite friends and your community to join in prayer and fasting on Thursday, Nov. 3 and Friday, 4, days when 100 gathered clergy will hold a peaceful vigil with the people at Standing Rock. Alternately, host a prayer vigil at your congregation or near your local river or water source.
Stand with Standing Rock in presence
- If you are interested in being part of a Mennonite faith-based delegation to Standing Rock, please fill out this form at the Dismantling the Doctrine of Discovery Coalition’s website.
Stand with Standing Rock in financial action
- Support the legal defense fund to assist nonviolent protestors who have been arrested and incarcerated.
- Move your money out of banks that are supporting the Dakota Access Pipeline.
- Decrease your dependence on fossil fuels by making sustainable lifestyle choices, individually and as a community.
Educate yourself on the Standing Rock Opposition to the Dakota Access Pipeline
The Standing Rock Sioux Nation (Oceti Sakowin) of North Dakota has chosen to reclaim its sacred burial sites and ancestral homeland next to the Missouri River. It was theirs under the U.S. Treaty of 1851, but revoked by our state and federal governments. A private corporation is seeking to construct an oil pipeline on this land without an agreement from the Standing Rock Nation. The Dakota Access Pipeline would carry billions of gallons of oil from the North Dakota Bakken oil fields through farmlands, run under the Missouri River in two places, and cross through many other rural communities and sensitive water and wildlife habitats. The river is the Standing Rock Sioux’s and many rural communities’ only source of water. To learn more, visit https://nodaplsolidarity.org.
Standing with Standing Rock,
Alison Brookins (AMBS MDiv student)
Katerina Friesen (MDiv 2015)
Sara Wenger Shenk (AMBS president)
Anabaptist Mennonite Biblical Seminary, Elkhart, Indiana
To add your name in support, visit: https://docs.google.com/document/d/1VULYm39GaNRrNqy_zp2tU76oelNUVMiD6BXwxrj5wEY/edit?usp=sharing