Earlham Students Support the Standing Rock Witness

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Earlham College and Earlham School of Religion students will be staging a prayer witness and teach-in, beginning at noon on Wednesday, 9/7 and continuing at least until the end of the week, at “the Heart” at the center of the Earlham campus in Richmond, Indiana. These actions will be in support of the Camp of the Sacred Stone, an encampment of over 4,000 Native Americans and their supporters at the Northern tip of the Standing Rock Sioux Reservation where the Cannonball River joins the Missouri near Cannon Ball, ND.

The Camp, whose spokespersons have asked for prayer support as well as material support from elsewhere, is engaged in a peaceful witness against further work on the 1,168-mile Dakota Access Pipeline, which was to cross the Missouri River just a half-mile upstream from the reservation. In spite of the encampment’s non-violent nature and location on the Dakota/Lakota nation’s sovereign territory, the local sheriff and the pipeline company have both called the protest “unlawful,” North Dakota Governor Jack Dalrymple has declared a state of emergency, and Lieutenant Governor Drew Wrigley has threatened to use his power to end the encampment. Private security forces have used attack dogs and mace on unarmed protestors.

The Earlham students’ witness aims to increase public awareness of the confrontation taking place, of the underlying issues, and of the Camp of the Sacred Stone’s expressed need for ongoing material and spiritual support. Some among the students also ask prayers for the repentance of the camp’s opponents.

The Standing Rock Sioux Tribal Council has objected to the pipeline’s threat to the tribe’s drinking water supply, which is drawn almost exclusively from the river, as well as to the tribe’s air, sacred sites, culturally important landscapes, and its very future. Opponents of the pipeline, noting the frequency of pipeline ruptures, say “It’s not that an oil spill might pollute the river, but that eventually it will.”

The Standing Rock Sioux Tribe, a sovereign nation occupying 2.3 million acres of land in North and South Dakota, with legal aid from the nonprofit Earthjustice, sued in Federal Court on 7/27/2016 for a preliminary injunction against further construction on the pipeline, which is to carry almost 500,000 barrels of oil a day from North Dakota’s oil fields to Patoka, Illinois. In 1958, without tribal consent, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers had taken the Dakota ancestral land that the pipeline is now scheduled to cross for a damming project on the Missouri River. The Army Corps of Engineers, bypassing its obligation to consult with the tribe, fast-tracked the Dakota Access Pipeline by invoking the Nationwide Permit No. 12 process, which grants exemption from environmental-impact reviews mandated by the Clean Water and National Environmental Policy Acts by treating the pipeline as a series of small, unrelated construction projects. The tribe’s suit was heard by the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia on 8/24/2016. Judge James E. Boasberg declined to make a decision on that day, but promised one by Friday, 9/9/16.

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One Response to “Earlham Students Support the Standing Rock Witness”

  1. John Jeremiah Edminster Says:

    On this topic: I just sent the following letter to North Dakota’s Governor Jack Dalrymple:

    Governor Dalrymple,

    Please pray with us for a peaceable and just resolution to the standoff at Cannon Ball. We students at Earlham College and Earlham School of Religion in Richmond, Indiana are about to begin days of a prayer witness and a teach-in on our campus. It is in support of the Camp of the Sacred Stones on the Standing Rock Sioux Reservation, which asked for prayer support.

    But some of us believe that prayer, which is rightly addressed to the God of both sides of any controversy, asks not merely that “my side” wins, but that a higher truth be revealed that enlightens both sides. When this higher truth comes out, it can lead to repentance and reconciliation — if people are willing to receive the truth — and everyone profits.

    I’ve read that you’ve put out a call to everyone in the present controversy to behave peacefully and within the law, which is a commendable act on your part. Now I’ve just seen film footage that showed men and women in pickup trucks coming to attack peaceful Native American protesters with attack dogs and Mace. It is not clear whether these were private security guards hired by the Dakota Access Pipeline’s parent company, Energy Transfer Partners, L.C., or one of its subcontractors — or simply vigilantes who showed up to do some spontaneous acts of cruelty.

    But these criminal acts happened on your watch, Governor Dalrymple, after you’d called for peaceful and lawful behavior. Will you speak out against these criminal acts? Will you show yourself a public official who is answerable to all people, who protects the peace of North Dakota with impartial justice, who guards the air, the water, and the tilth of the land responsibly, and behaves himself like one who knows he is answerable to the Judge of all the earth?

    The world is watching. Your conscience is watching, and our God is watching. We all know that the people of the United States have done terrible things to the Dakota/Lakota people in the past, and we now owe them a debt of scrupulous fairness, truthfulness, care, and compassion. If they say that our plans for economic development threaten their water and their life, or that our bulldozers’ activity on land taken from them without their consent desecrates their sacred sites, we must listen to them, really listen to them, or stand convicted before the world’s Judge as a nation whose loss of integrity forfeits our right to go on existing as a nation. I’m sure that you and I would both hate to see that happen to the United States of America.

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