|Photo by Thane Maxwell|
The Dakota Access Pipeline (DAPL) is a planned 1,172-mile oil pipeline, with an expected capacity of 500,000 barrels of oil per day. The pipeline would originate in the Bakken oil fields in North Dakota and terminate in Pakota, Illinois.
The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers approved the construction of the pipeline under the Missouri River just one mile north of the Standing Rock Indian Reservation, home to the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe. The proximity of this pipeline to the Missouri River could threaten the Sioux people’s access to clean water, and in April 2016, the Standing Rock Sioux initiated a protest effort to protect this international human right.
Tribal leaders also argue that the pipeline infringes upon their sacred burial grounds, and in July, the Reservation sued the Army Corps of Engineers over their failure to conduct meaningful consultation and to adhere to environmental and historical protection regulations. While the judge ruled against the Sioux’s request on September 9th, 2016, on this same day, the Army Corps of Engineers, with the support of the Departments of Justice and Interior, halted the pipeline’s construction near key tribal lands until they could fully review the permits granted for construction.
Since April, 2016 a growing popular movement lead by indigenous people has formed at the site of pipeline construction. As of mid-September, thousands of native and non native protestors have demonstrated support at the protest camps, and an unprecedented 180 tribal nations have sent letters of solidarity. These camps are being monitored by the National Guard, and private security companies have attacked some protestors with dogs, among whom number women and children.
Our Stake As Presbyterians:
The 222nd General Assembly (2016) of the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.), meeting in Portland, Oregon in June, passed two overtures which effect the 95 Native American Presbyterian churches across the country.
- An apology to Native American’s for the church’s involvement and administration of boarding schools during the late 19th and early 20th centuries whose purpose was the “civilization” of Native American children.
- A repudiation of the Doctrine of Discovery: this “doctrine” derives its authority from Pope’s and European royal decrees stating “explorers” may seize lands and convert “non-Christians” in their name and for the good of the Christian Church. It remains the basis, as late as 2005, for Indian Law and Supreme Court decisions against Tribes.
Strong support for the land defense effort by the Standing Rock Sioux is one step in making good on the apology and towards right relationship with Native people.
What can you do?
There are many ways that you can amplify the request of the Standing Rock Tribe, including:
• Contacting your congressional representatives in the U.S. House of Representatives and the U.S. Senate and asking them to request that the Army Corps of Engineers conduct a more complete environmental assessment of the pipeline project that 1) includes the impact on the tribal reservation, and 2) honors obligations expressed in the treaty with the Standing Rock Tribe.
• Contacting the U.S. Department of Justice to ask them to continue monitoring the methods used by police and security during the standoff in order to protect the peaceful protestors from potential violence and harassment
• Sending your monetary donations for camp supplies, tents, and warm clothes to:
The Synod of Lakes and Prairies
2115 Cliff Drive
Eagan, MN 55122
Note on check: Dakota Access Pipeline Acct #2087
They will send a confirmation to the donor that the funds were received and then again with information about where they were distributed. Please make sure to include your name and address on the check unless already printed on it.
- Praying for all the parties that a just and peaceful resolution of the dispute may be arrived at. Wisdom is needed for all engaged in this dispute: tribal members; accompanying protectors; government officials at the national, state, and local level; corporate leaders and employees; and all those across the PCUSA as members seek to reduce consumption of fossil fuel and live more lightly amidst God’s creation.
Thanks to Irvin Porter, Elona Street-Stewart, and Gary Payton for their contributions to this guide.