Spirit Sightings

December 18, 2016: Faithful Response

From Paul Turley

The day after Thanksgiving was celebrated in the United States this year, the Army Corps of Engineers wrote to the Standing Rock Sioux tribe telling them that they were going to close access to the campsite where the Standing Rock Sioux have led other Native American tribes for many months in protest against the Dakota Access Pipeline project.

The protesters’ main concerns are that the pipeline route goes through sacred burial grounds and has a very real danger of causing irreparable damage to the Missouri River and Lake Oahe, the main sources of drinking water for the Standing Rock Sioux.

In September, the U.S. Government temporarily stopped construction of the pipeline, but the company building the line, Energy Transfer Partners, said it would not consider another route for the pipeline.

The Standing Rock Sioux and the other tribes are asking the U.S. government to honour their treaty rights. In a statement in response to the Army Corp of Engineers’ letter, Dave Archambault II, Standing Rock Sioux tribe’s chairman, said, “Our tribe is deeply disappointed in this decision by the United States, but our resolve to protect our water is stronger than ever. We ask that all [sic] everyone who can appeal to President Obama and the Army Corps of Engineers to consider the future of our people and rescind all permits and deny the easement to cross the Missouri River just north of our Reservation and straight through our treaty lands.”

These treaty lands, carved away illegally by Congress piece by piece over the years were declared in the 1851 Treaty of Ft. Laramie. It is that treaty, signed in good faith by the Sioux, that the tribes are asking the U.S. government to honour.

At the time of writing this, the water protectors, as the protesters are calling themselves, are refusing to abandon their protest even in the face of violence and intimidation.

According to the website sacredstonecamp.org, “Over 300 police officers in riot gear, 8 ATVs, 5 armored vehicles, 2 helicopters, and numerous military-grade humvees showed up north of the newly formed frontline camp just east of Highway 1806.  The 1851 Treaty Camp was set up this past Sunday directly in the path of the pipeline, on land recently purchased by DAPL. Today this camp, a reclamation of unceded Dakota territory affirmed as part of the Standing Rock Reservation in the Ft. Laramie Treaty of 1851, was violently cleared.  Both blockades established this past weekend to enable that occupation were also cleared.

In addition to pepper spray and concussion grenades, shotguns were fired into the crowd with less lethal ammunition and a sound cannon was used. At least one person was tased and the barbed hook lodged in his face, just outside his eye. Another was hit in the face by a rubber bullet.

At the time of writing, the deadline the government has given for protesters to leave is Monday December 5. According to The New York Times, the government said it would not forcibly remove anyone, but could cite people for trespassing or other offenses.

As you read this, you will know whether the water protectors remain or not…

Explore… Matthew 1:18–25

  • What does Emmanuel, God is with us, mean for the people protesting at Standing Rock?
  • What would it look like for America (and Canada and Australia) to know itself forgiven for its treatment of native peoples?
  • Joseph was willing to change his whole direction based on a dream. What is the dream in your life that shapes your direction?

Prayer links...

  • God, we pray for our sister and brothers of the Sioux nation. They have suffered much and long over many generations and still today are not able to live peaceably in their own lands. Give them courage and hope. Give us repentant hearts and the courage to require governments to respect the rights of all people. In the name of the great peacemaker, Jesus. Amen.


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