Episcopalians back protest over Standing Rock pipeline

17 March 2017

MARY FRANCES SCHJONBERG/EPISCOPAL NEWS SERVICE 

Action: protest­ers at the Native Nations Rise demonstration and rally in Washington

Action: protest­ers at the Native Nations Rise demonstration and rally in Washington

THE Standing Rock Sioux Nation, in North Dakota, travelled to Wash­ington, DC, last week to march in protest against the Dakota Access pipeline, alongside thous­ands of people of faith. The project was halted in December, but was later accelerated by President Trump in one of his first actions in the Oval Office (News, 27 January).

The Nation opposes the route of the pipeline, which will transport crude oil across its ancestral burial grounds, arguing that it could pollute their main source of water. The Episcopal Church in the United States has long opposed its construction, in solid­arity with the Nation (News, 11 Nov­­ember).

The Bishop of North Dakota, the Rt Revd Michael Smith, led a two-hour service at Washington National Cathedral on the eve of the protest on Thursday of last week, the Episcopal News Service re­­ported. “For people of faith, work­ing for justice includes both prayer and action,” he told the con­gregation. “Tonight, we pray; to­­mor­­row, we act.”

He was joined by the Bishop of South Dakota, the Rt Revd John Tarrant, and the supervising priest of the Episcopal churches on the North Dakota side of Standing Rock, the Revd John Floberg. The Bishop of Alaska, the Rt Revd Mark Lattime; the Assistant Bishop of Montana, the Rt Revd Carol Gallagher; and the Bishop of Navajoland, the Rt Revd David Bailey, also took part in the two-mile march from the White House, to raise awareness of the rights of indigenous peoples.

Only days earlier, a federal judge ruled against a request by the Standing Rock and Cheyenne River tribes to stop construction of the last section of the Dakota pipe­line.

Rising tem­peratures in North Dakota melted more than 40 inches of snow last month, flooding the Oceti Sakowin protest camp near the proposed crossing and dis­mantling final attempts by the Nation to protect the land.

The pipeline is due to be com­pleted by 1 April.

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