GCORR Stands with Standing Rock

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Photo Credit: Joe Brusky

Statement from the General Commission on Religion and Race on the Continuing Protests at Standing Rock Reservation in North Dakota

The General Commission on Religion and Race stands in solidarity with members of the Sioux Nation and others–including an ever-growing number of religious leaders–who say that construction of an oil pipeline in North Dakota may jeopardize the tribe’s water supply and threaten sacred tribal sites.

General Secretary Erin Hawkins Visits Standing Rock, September 2016

General Secretary Erin Hawkins Visits Standing Rock, September 2016

Since April of this year, members of the Sioux Nation, along with representatives of more than 90 other Native American tribes and supporters from around the United States and the world have converged on Standing Rock to protest the construction of the Dakota Access Pipeline. Thousands have set up camp on land around the reservation and hundreds have been arrested in clashes with law enforcement officials in order to bring attention to this issue.

Developers of the pipeline say it is needed to transport fracked crude oil from the Bakken oil field across the Missouri River to a refinery in Chicago.

The United Methodist Church is on record as supporting the rights of Native/Indigenous people, advocating greater care of God’s creation and decrying environmental racism. In 2012, the United Methodist General Conference called the worldwide, 12-million-member denomination to engage in Acts of Repentance for the violence, displacement, discrimination and systemic harm done to Native American and other indigenous cultures, both throughout history and currently.

Delegates to that General Conference challenged United Methodists everywhere to engage in ongoing learning about the histories of Indigenous members, to initiate conversations with Indigenous People in our respective communities, and to engage in authentic acts of repentance and restorative justice in support of Native/Indigenous people.

While the issues of the Standing Rock protests are complex, the Commission asserts that the rights of Indigenous persons and their lands, and our call to honor and protect precious natural resources-such as water-must be protected. We call on United Methodists to take a stand to insure that the voices of Native Americans are heard on what happens to their lands, and that church members pray for all parties, write letters to their respective legislators expressing concerns, and offer other means of support toward a just, responsible resolution to this conflict.

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