Next week, I will travel to North Dakota to join clergy men and women from across the United States in standing with the Native Peoples of the Standing Rock Sioux Reservation in their struggle to stop the construction of a pipeline they believe threatens their water source and their way of life.
Rev. John Floberg is the supervising priest of the Episcopal churches of Standing Rock in North Dakota for 25 years. He expressed alarm by what he calls an increase in “the repressive power of the state.” Rev. Floberg described “armed riot police guarding ongoing pipeline construction, increased arrests and repression of non-violent prayerful action.”
Just as Dr. Martin Luther King issued the call for the nation’s clergy to gather in faith at Selma, Alabama, in 1965, at a critical moment in the civil rights struggle, Rev. Floberg issued a call for clergy to join the Oceti Sakowin water protectors in protesting the Dakota Access Pipeline which cuts across Native lands and burial grounds.
The Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) has gone on record supporting the Standing Rock Sioux protest. The PCUSA statement reads in part: “The peaceful and wholesome nature of the protestors has been made confrontational as the governor recently issued a declaration of emergency. Roadblocks and detours are guarded by heavily armed law enforcement who have come in from around the state because of the governor’s declaration.”
My trip to North Dakota to join this cause is a response to Rev. Floberg’s call as well as the PCUSA’s support for the people of Standing Rock and to personally witness this struggle. Please keep these men and women of our First Nation in prayer.