Breaking News: Water Protectors Refuse to Leave Main Camp Dec. 5, in Spite of Army Corps of Engineers Orders

hcmc3The likelihood of increasing tension, violence, and mass arrests over the Dakota Access Pipeline is quickly increasing, as the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers is ordering the shut down of Oceti Sakowin, the Water Protectors’ Main Camp, and threatening arrests. The Water Protectors are refusing to leave.

In a nut shell, the federal government is bailing on the Water Protectors. North Dakota law enforcement has used excessive force against the Water Protectors, including water cannons in freezing temperatures and tear gas. Instead of investigating the situation or intervening on behalf of the Standing Rock Nation and its allies, the federal government is pulling the permit for the Water Protectors to be on federal land. The Water Protectors have to leave by Dec. 5 or face arrest, according to CNN and other news sources.

NBC is reporting tonight that the Water Protectors are vowing to stay, regardless of the order. Continue reading

Yukon Presbytery Apologize to Native Alaskans; This Day in History: The Indian Child Welfare Act

OK, it’s election day, so we’re going to blog with some good news: Presbytery of Yukon offers apology to Native Alaskans. (The Yukon Presbytery covers all of Alaska.) As the Presbyterian News Service reported it:

Native representatives and the presbytery both acknowledge this significant gesture is the start of a long process to address the abuses of the past century, especially as it relates to the treatment of Native Alaskan children at church-affiliated boarding schools.

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Religious Leaders are Standing with Standing Rock to Stop the Dakota Access Pipeline

In our blog yesterday, we included a list of the denominations that had issued statements on the Dakota Access Pipeline. Since then, we learned that we missed some. Those taking a position include leaders from: the Episcopal Church; the Mennonite Central Committee (Central States); the United Church of Christ; the Minnesota Annual Conference of the United Methodist Church; the ELCA; the Unitarian Universalists, and the Presbyterian Church USA.

Please let us know if we have missed any statements from religious leaders. We will continue to update the list.

Quick background: The proposed pipeline would pass under the Missouri River, just one mile from the fresh water intake for the Standing Rock Reservation. The Pipeline also would pass through lands sacred to Standing Rock, including burial grounds.

The pipeline’s original route took it within 10 miles of Bismarck, but concern about the potential impact on the Capital City’s drinking water lead to a reroute near the reservation.

Things are currently in limbo. On Sept. 9, a federal judge turned down the Standing Rock Nation’s request to stop pipeline construction, according to MPR. The judge concluded that the Army Corps of Engineers had followed the law in approving the project. That same day, the federal government ordered “work to stop on the segment of the project in question, asking Energy Transfer Partners to ‘voluntarily pause’ action” on the culturally significant areas.

Below, each statement from religious leaders on this issue is powerful on its own. Collectively, their power is magnified and shows that this truly is an issue of conscience. Continue reading for excerpts and links to their full statements. They are listed in chronological order. Continue reading

Presbyterian Church USA Joins Growing List of Denominations Repudiating the Doctrine of Discovery

Elona Street Stewart, Executive of the Presbyterian Synod of Lakes and Prairies and a member of the Delaware Nanticoke Nation: "Our work has just begun."
Elona Street-Stewart, Executive of the Presbyterian Synod of Lakes and Prairies and a member of the Delaware Nanticoke Nation: “The real work has just begun.”

The General Assembly of the Presbyterian Church USA met in Portland June 16-23 and voted to repudiate the Doctrine of Discovery. It also voted to develop recommendations of how Presbyterian congregations “can support Native Americans in their ongoing efforts for sovereignty and fundamental human rights.” It was part of the Church’s broader work on racial justice.

The Presbyterian Church joins a growing list of denominations which have repudiated the Doctrine of Discovery, which has old roots but an ongoing impact. The Doctrine refers to a series of 15th Century papal edicts that gave the religious and legal justification used by Europe’s colonial powers to claim lands occupied by indigenous peoples. It allowed colonizers to seize Native property and forcibly convert or enslave the people. The Doctrine was the forerunner to the concept of Manifest Destiny, and supported the thinking that led to Native American genocide. Later, the “Discovery Doctrine” was adapted into U.S. law through a series of 19th Century Supreme Court decisions justifying U.S. land claims. Those rulings still apply today.

Other denominations that have repudiated the Doctrine of Discovery include: the Episcopal Church, the Unitarian Universalists, the United Church of Christ, the United Methodist Church, the World Council of Churches, and most recently the Community of Christ. The Evangelical Lutheran Church in America (ELCA) is scheduled to take up this issue at its Churchwide Assembly, Aug. 8-13 in New Orleans. The Healing Minnesota Stories website has a list of denominational statements.

Here is the specific language the Presbyterian Church USA General Assembly approved: Continue reading