The situation at Standing Rock reservation in North Dakota is heartbreaking. Much has been said about it, and I don't know enough to add anything useful to the conversation other than what it feels like to watch it from a safe and privileged distance. Knowing it was probably a hoax, I still participated in the "great check in" on Facebook of over a million people as an act of solidarity, and I was glad to hear it was appreciated by the tribe's leaders even if the real effect was negligible.
I have friends who visited the reservation this week, and heeded the call on Thursday from the Most Rev. Michael Bruce Curry, Presiding Bishop of the Episcopal Church, to pray for the situation at noon local time.
This was my prayer:
Despite my present "statelessness" in the church, I am tremendously grateful for Bishop Curry's leadership and the way the Gospel is being taken where it needs to go and be heard. I hope the Standing Rock Sioux took comfort from the visit this week of hundreds of people of faith. Because of how social media connects us, the story has led people from around the world to go there, including members of over 200 native American tribes. People with no obvious motive to participate are nonetheless feeling compelled to do so. It is not practical for all of us to go there, however. It may not be safe, and it may not even be wanted or helpful.
”Spirit of God, be for us joy.
I ask your blessing upon the people on both sides of the Standing Rock dispute, that they summon the wisdom and courage to forge an equitable and just solution to the pipeline standoff, respecting the gifts of earth, fuel and water that you made.
Be with (redacted) and all your faithful who heeded the call to stand witness, listen, and comfort the people of Standing Rock, as well as with (redacted) and all who did so from their pulpits, desks, beds and computers.
Make us, I pray, mindful of the impacts of our habits and appetites on all living things now and in the future. Give us insight to discover solutions that are kinder to these fragile systems and beings.
Bestow your blessing upon the Sioux people and all of the first nations of this land, that they know your love through the challenges of these days, and the wounds of our indifference and neglect, for which I repent.
All this I ask in the name of your son, whose love transcends division, assuages pain, comforts grief and shelters joy. Amen.”
We are not helpless in this situation, though, even from this distance. The President has said that the Army Corps of Engineers is exploring an alternative route for this pipeline which would (hopefully) avoid land sacred to the Sioux people and honor the treaty with them when so many have been broken before. You can add your voice, as I did, to ask him to do everything in his power to make sure that happens. You can also donate to the tribe if you feel willing or able to do so.