May we be careful listeners.
We journeyed north to see for ourselves what was going on in North Dakota. Five men, looking for answers. What was truly happening? In talking to Michael Portugal on the way up, it became clear that we didn’t want to have expectations for our short journey. We wanted to come alongside. We wanted to listen.
What was asked upon all those arriving was to think about how we were approaching. This group of people that is crying out for justice has been facing some form of colonization since the white man first came to their America, so we were asked to make sure not to bring our colonist way of life with us into this sacred place, but instead, to set aside what we might think our intentions are, and bring simply peace and prayer to this table. So we each kept an interrogative thought process, and a mind of stillness, and each went about our own path, sharing in stories and fires and warm meals.
To be honest, I really had some high hopes that I would come and bring my camera and have it by my side to photograph a lot of what was going on there, but after experiencing the stillness, I set my craft aside for the majority, and leaned in to the story being told.
The Native people are once again in the midst of an Empire that would seek to take what rightfully belongs to them. Sacred are the lands. Valued are the waters. Beautiful are these people. And it’s all just being dashed against the rocks by another group of people who stand to gain from a pipeline.
"The Standing Rock Sioux Indian Reservation is home to Dakota and Lakota people of the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe. Since time immemorial, they have lived and governed a vast territory throughout North and South Dakota, and parts of Montana, Wyoming, Minnesota, Iowa and Nebraska. Currently, the Tribe is located in central North and South Dakota. Despite strong objections from the Tribe from the first time they heard of the project, on July 25, 2016, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (Army Corps) granted authorization to the Dakota Access Pipeline to cross Lake Oahe as part of the construction of a 1,100-mile pipeline that is proposed to carry over a half-million barrels of Bakken crude oil to Illinois and across four states. The current route of construction takes the pipeline less than one half mile from the Tribe’s reservation border, and thus the Tribe maintains a sovereign interest in protecting its cultural resources and patrimony that remain with the land. In addition, all along the route of the pipeline are sites of religious and cultural significance to our people, including burial sites of our ancestors. The pipeline would cross the Tribe’s traditional and ancestral lands and the construction of the pipeline jeopardizes many sacred places. But, while federal law requires meaningful consultation with the Tribe on these matters, that has not happened here. The Tribe opposes DAPL because we must honor our ancestors and protect our sacred sites and our precious waters." - standingrock.org
And now- here we are, on the eve of a Holiday that holds some darker side as well, one that was instituted as colonists arrived on the Eastern shore at Plymouth- a people thankful for new lands that were not theirs.
So- As it says in the book of James- may we be quick to listen, and slow to speak, and slow to anger, and may we be prone towards love. May we think about this Holiday and what it means for a people who are at this very moment in the midst of crisis on the same soil as us, crying out for justice, while families gather around opulent feasts and warm tables.
Thank you for letting me share.
To gain more information about what's happening- standwithstandingrock.net