Two weeks ago at St. Mark’s Cathedral in Seattle, local faith communities held a beautiful blessing of a totem pole created by Lummi House of Tears Carvers, on its way on a journey of solidarity to Winnipeg, Manitoba. There the pole will stand in opposition to the destruction of Native lifeways by the tar sand oil fields. On the way to Winnipeg, these totem pole journeyers arrived in Standing Rock, South Dakota, where another historic battle is taking place.
Our prayers went with them, as did our support for their strong leadership on behalf of our common home.
The Lummi joined other Northwest tribal leaders in Cannon Ball, ND: Swinomish, Yakima, Nisqually and many others, in defense of clean water and in opposition to the Dakota Access oil pipeline (DAPL). The company behind DAPL is poised to dig a hazardous route for 570,000 barrels of oil a day under the Missouri River, threatening clean water for the Sioux and downstream communities.
Later that week, contractors hired to work on the pipeline razed known Sioux sacred sites and set dogs and mace on Native protesters. The photos of that day bear a striking resemblance to the treatment of civil rights protesters in Selma, Alabama in 1965.
There are strong parallels between the successful Lummi campaign to fight a huge coal export terminal at Xwe’chi’eXen (Cherry Point) and the cause of the Standing Rock Sioux. These include the willful, secret bulldozing of sacred land by fossil fuel corporations; the fight by Native nations to get a full environmental review by the Army Corps of Engineers; and attempt by big corporations to make sacrifice zones of Native lands and water while avoiding more influential communities. Most importantly, Native leadership is firm, committed, effective and powerful here in the Northwest and among the Sioux Nation.
For many years, Earth Ministry and many of us in faith communities have stood with the Lummi Nation, the Quinault Nation, and others to fight fossil fuel proposals in treaty areas. As you know, although the fight is hard, we are prevailing. From our experience, the fight for the water, life and the very identity of the Sioux people will not be over this week or next—we are expecting a long haul through the permitting process.
Earth Ministry has stood in solidarity with our Native neighbors every step of the way, and has turned faith into action. As you read this, we are consulting with our Native and environmental partners to find the best way forward to support the Standing Rock Sioux. Support and advocacy from all of us will be crucial in the legal, political, and spiritual battle ahead.
Cross-posted with Earth Ministry.