My heart breaks to see the pictures of armed police in riot gear dispersing the peaceful protesters who positioned themselves on the land that separates the Missouri River from the Dakota Pipeline. It is the very ground I stood on yesterday and joined hands with nearly 100 tribal members and water protectors to offer up words of prayer for peace and the care of the river.
There are two distinct narratives taking place at Standing Rock. One is that it is a dangerous gathering of militants who are planning to use whatever means necessary to stop the pipeline from progressing. The other is it is a peaceful gathering that has drawn more than 320 tribes from around the world along with faith leaders and environmentalists who share a common desire to support the Sioux community who believe their sacred sites are being desecrated and the future of their water source is being put at great risk.
I must tell you I experienced nothing of the first narrative. What I did experience was the gratitude of the Standing Rock people that a faith delegation had come to stand alongside them to pray for peace. When our prayer circle broke there were several tribal members who embraced me with tears running down their faces.
I can assure you that even if the pipeline goes through, this story is not finished. I see this as a kairos moment in which to open a wider conversation of how we treat our indigenous brothers and sisters and how we care for our sacred earth and waters.
Please keep all involved in Standing Rock in your prayers!
+ Bishop Unti
Bishop Elizabeth Eaton addressed the camp.