Standing Rock: “The face of the struggle.”

protest-campThe following email from former First Unitarian member Elizabeth Siftar was received this morning. The attached message from the UU Ministry for Earth is worth reading.

Dear First UU Wilmington Green Sanctuary, Rev. Roberta, Jeff, and Marilyn,

I am forwarding this urgent call to environmental justice action from UU Ministry for Earth and UUA Green Sanctuary. We here in Massachusetts — UUs and others in a broad coalition — are organizing against the usurpation of democratic rights by Spectra and other fracked-gas pipeline companies to forcibly run their pipelines through private properties, protected lands,aquifers,even schools. Even in the face of state and municipal laws passed against these pipelines (and including public health data), the pipeline companies, previously held back by these laws, have returned since the election and are using every  means to force the pipelines on communities, including Sharon, where I now live. In many cases, the pipeline companies are starting surveying without necessary permitting, citing Eminent Domain and FERC, the federal energy regulations which they say override state laws.  So the resistance begins and Massachusetts UUs — including my church, Sharon Unitarian Church — are at the forefront in organizing communities.

But nothing here compares to Standing Rock and the sacred actions of peaceful resistance by the Sioux Nation and other native peoples to protect their water and sacred grounds from the Dakota Access Pipeline. For UUs, Standing Rock is the face of the struggle. We here in Massachusetts are facing numerous struggles against pipelines all over the state. But many UUs are traveling to Standing Rock. In the following message, you will find several actions that can be organized over the next several days and weeks. I hope you will find some way to stand in support of Water Protectors at Standing Rock.

In faith, Elizabeth





                                                                Photo: REUTERS

Dakota Access Pipeline Action Update and Calls

The non-violent direct action struggle against the Dakota Access Pipeline continues in North Dakota, in Iowa, and with thousands of actions of solidarity all over the world. Countless Unitarian Universalists are taking action in this Standing Rock Sioux and Indigenous-led movement. There are numerous upcoming events that you can join – by travelling to North Dakota or by organizing in your community.

Upcoming Actions

TODAY, Wednesday, November 30th, at 6:30 PM Central, join a Webinar hosted by the UUA to support Standing Rock Solidarity. People of any and all traditions are welcome to join this conversation. Please register here.

There is a call for a Worldwide Day of Action on Thursday, December 1st, particularly calling on banks and Sheriffs’ departments to pull out their resources. Every day of December is a #NoDAPL day of action. Here is a helpful online resource packet compiled by a solidarity activist that provides useful links and contact information.

Sunday, December 4th is an Interfaith Day of Prayer called for by Chief Arvol Looking Horse, an honored spiritual leader of the Oceti Sakowin peoples.  Many people will be travelling to North Dakota for this event.


Escalation of Violence, Nov. 20th

You might have heard by now that on Sunday, November 20th, there was an extremely militarized and violent stand-off between #NoDAPL water protectors and police forces near Lake Oahe and the Standing Rock Sioux reservation. According to the Standing Rock Medic and Healer Council, they treated approximately 300 people for injuries over the course of 10 hours of conflict, and at least 26 people had to be evacuated by ambulance to three area hospitals.

The Intercept reports: “The standoff began after pipeline opponents attempted to use a semi truck to remove two charred military vehicles from a bridge. The vehicles were serving as a blockade between the large encampment known as Oceti Sakowin, which has served as a base for blocking the pipeline, and construction sites accessible farther down the highway. Beyond the burned-out vehicles stood cement road barriers topped with razor wire, behind which police and other security officials have been standing guard since the end of October. Their presence means a detour for those traveling between the Standing Rock Sioux reservation and the city of Bismarck, including emergency medical services.”


North Dakota’s official reason for the road blockade, according to North Dakota Transportation Department spokeswoman Jamie Olsen (quoted by NBC Bay Area), is that, “Additional testing is needed to make sure the bridge is safe, and that can’t be done until the area is deemed safe for inspectors.”

Two women offering water and medical assistance to the protestors on Sunday, November 20th were very gravely injured by the militarized police. Their names are Vanessa Dunden (aka Sioux Z) and Sophia Wilansky.

The standoff between water protectors and militarized police forces and private security at the junction of the Cannonball River and the Missouri River has continued to escalate over this past week of Thanksgiving.

Notices to Vacate

On the Friday after Thanksgiving, the Army Corps of Engineers District Commander John W. Henderson, P.E., sent a letter to the Standing Rock Sioux tribal Chairman, David Archambault II, warning them to vacate the Oceti Sakowin Camp by Monday, December 5th. This is the camp where the Interfaith Day of Prayer (that many faith leaders are traveling widely to attend) called by Chief Arvol Looking Horse is scheduled to be on Sunday, December 4th.

Two days later (on Sunday), the Army Corps of Engineers stated it had “no plans for forcible removal” but would be giving citations. Just yesterday, the Governor of North Dakota released an executive order for a mandatory evacuation of the camp, calling for government and non-government actors “to reduce threats to public safety by not guaranteeing the provision of emergency and other governmental and nongovernmental services in the evacuation area, unless otherwise approved on a case by case basis by the Morton County Sheriff or Superintendent of the Highway Patrol.”


Response from Coalition

Read this coalition response from the Camp of the Sacred Stones, International Indigenous Youth Council, Honor the Earth, and Indigenous Environmental Network. The Standing Rock Medic and Healers Council has also released a statement identifying the State’s road blockades and checkpoints as a grave threat to public safety, and calling for their removal.

Click here to read more information about the background context to the Army Corps of Engineers’ claim to the land that the Oceti Sakowin is on.

Veterans Call for Assembly

US Army Veterans are “calling for our fellow veterans to assemble as a peaceful, unarmed militia at the Standing Rock Indian Reservation on Dec 4-7” (link), and it is reported that two thousand veterans are planning to go.

Don’t forget to RSVP for the UU solidarity webinar if you can make it: Wednesday, November 30th, at 6:30 PM Central — and to check out this helpful compilation of resources for supporting Standing Rock.Today is also the last day to support the Faithify campaign to assist the Bismark-Mandan Unitarian Universalist Congregation in their direct support for the water protectors.


Prayers for Protectors

Let us hold the many thousands of people currently engaged in non-violent direct action and prayer to stop the Dakota Access Pipeline in our own hearts and prayers. Please consider speaking and praying about this in your congregations this Sunday. Consider collecting a special offering in support of the water protectors, sometime this month. May the thousands of people traveling to Standing Rock now be able to get there safe from harm. May we all do whatever we can to love and protect one another in these difficult times.

In gratitude and prayer,

Aly Tharp

Executive Team, Commit2Respond

Programs Coordinator, UU Ministry for Earth & UU Young Adults for Climate Justice



(C) 2013 UU Ministry for Earth, 1034 SW 13th Ave., Portland, OR 97205

UU Ministry for Earth is a 501(c)3 organization. Contributions are tax deductible to the full extent of the law.




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