The Sad Story on How North Dakota’s Religious Leaders Are Mostly Ignoring Native Concerns About DAPL

Rev. John Floberg has served as an Episcopal priest on the Standing Rock Reservation for a quarter century. He is one of few religious leaders in North Dakota to play an active role in supporting the water protectors camps and listening to people’s concerns, according to a story in the Bismarck Tribune.

Floberg was the one who invited clergy from around the country to come to the camps last fall, an event that drew around 500 leaders of different faiths to support Standing Rock in its efforts to stop the Dakota Access Pipeline (DAPL). He continues working to support relationships between Native and non-Native peoples, for instance, giving gift cards to his Native American congregants so they can eat with non-native friends in Bismarck-Mandan. Floberg said it was his 25 years on the reservation that gave him the understanding on how to stand his ground in this contentious situation.

Other than the backstory on Floberg, this is a sad article. The Bismarck Tribune reports:

Though support and endorsements have flooded in from religious institutions around the world, few Christian leaders on the Standing Rock Indian Reservation and in North Dakota took an active role. In fact, Floberg was nearly unique in his activism. …

More broadly in North Dakota, the only churches to take on an active role have been the Unitarian Universalists in Bismarck and the Presentation Sisters in Fargo, according to Karen von Fassen, of the UU church. Some did partake individually by coming to rallies or participating in interfaith prayer events.

To be fair, this is a very polarizing issue in North Dakota, not an easy issue for religious leaders to address. (Locally, compare it to the difficult conversations in congregations around Black Lives Matter protesting at Mall of America or blocking  freeways to highlight police shootings.) Yet this is where faith gets tested. Continue reading

FBI Anti-Terrorist Unit Tracking Water Protectors; Journalist Gives Her Side of Story in DAPL Arrest

In chilling news, members of an FBI anti-terror squad are investigating opponents of the Dakota Access Pipeline (DAPL). The FBI won’t comment on the matter.

News accounts say that members of the FBI’s Joint Terrorism Task Forces (JTTF) are knocking on the doors of water protectors and asking questions. These task forces are “our nation’s front line on terrorism: small cells of highly trained, locally based, passionately committed investigators, analysts, linguists, SWAT experts, and other specialists from dozens of U.S. law enforcement and intelligence agencies,” its website says. They are based in 104 cities around the country.

Door knocking might seem innocuous to some. But how would you feel if one of these anti-terrorism experts came knocking on your door and started asking you questions about your activities, but wouldn’t say why? Now think about how that would feel to water protectors who already had experienced a hyper-militarized response to their actions, such as water cannons, mace, or rubber bullets. This surely would feel intimidating. Being labeled a suspected terrorist carries high stigma and the risk of a long incarceration. It could be a scare tactic to silence legitimate protest.

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