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